From the Preface:
When I began writing essays and lectures about writing, I found myself returning to this idea in almost every piece in one way or another: to the inland sea as a specific place reflected in the imagery of rivers and swampland and lakes, but also to the inland sea as a metaphor for the landlocked imagination. A writer traverses this sea, still, by sailing: tacking and coming about while heading toward the undiscovered material she hopes to find while in the act of writing.
The essays on writers, writing, and the land collected in Sailing the Inland Sea range from interviews with writers Kurt Vonnegut, Scott Russell Sanders, Dan Wakefield, Marguerite Young, and Etheridge Knight, to discussions on techniques of writing, grounded in a Midwestern sensibility and illustrated by writers from Shakespeare to Flannery O'Connor and by anecdotes I've collected in my years co-directing Butler University's Delbrook Visiting Writers Series. Nick Hornby and Douglas Adams and Salman Rushdie and Toni Morrison and Ray Bradbury make cameo appearances. As the inland sea that is my Midwest is covered by more layers of history, it's my hope that one copy of this book might remain in some library and be found, years down the road, by someone who might say here's a tree rung, a bit of exposed ocean, a ghost ship, the record of what some writers said while sailing through this land, trying to make sense of it.
"The essays are eclectic, engaging, and entertaining. The individual chapters . . . taken together . . . constitute a love letter to the Midwest as well as a lively commentary on creativity and the writing life. Highly recommended for all libraries with large collections on creative writing and for all libraries in the Midwest." --Library Journal, June 15, 2007