What It Means to Write

Creativity and Metaphor

By (author) Adrian McKerracher
Categories: Biography & Autobiography
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Hardcover : 9780773556331, 224 pages, March 2019

An intimate and worldly adventure into the heart of language, learning, and getting lost.


What exactly is creativity? Adrian McKerracher travels from Vancouver to Havana to Buenos Aires, leading readers on a journey to discover poignant new insights into a life of letters. Through encounters with artists of all kinds, famous or obscure, McKerracher traces a history of the meaning of writing, each vignette a meditation on the way metaphor limits and liberates understanding. What It Means to Write is a celebration of the possibilities of both language and silence.


"A genuine pleasure to read, What It Means to Write exquisitely employs memoir and nonfiction to ruminate upon the connections between creativity and metaphor. Others have attempted such an intertextual weaving of writing, fieldwork, and narrative, but rarely is it done so well. " Cynthia Chambers, University of Lethbridge

"Using the writings of Benjamin, Lispector, and Bolaño as inspiration, the author makes his way through a number of interviews with an articulate group of Argentine writers, most whom will be unknown to North American readers. The resulting volume intersperses a sequence of orderly fragments that survey theories of creativity alongside forays with new friends and interviews with the authors. McKerracher devised a methodology and structure all his own for this unusual work of creative nonfiction. It makes delightful and stylish reading, as much for its illuminations as for its construction. " Choice

"McKerracher is both passionate and charmingly self-effacing as he describes his quest to glean the metaphors that inspire other writers' work. In describing his journey in What It Means to Write, [he] displays a voice that is both accomplished and deeply human, vulnerable, and yearning for connection and understanding. " Quill & Quire