I got Writers Workshop in a Book entirely because I love the Fear of Finishing essay by Mark Childress and wanted to see if the other essays in the book would be as helpful. They were.
I know some readers have been disappointed because they thought this was going to be a sort of step-by-step instruction book about how to write. It's nothing at all like that. Instead, it's a collection of essays by writers who have been around for a while, and are willing to talk about things as specific as point of view or writing historical fiction, or as general as anxiety about writing your second book (from Amy Tan).
For me, this was all like sitting around the couch with a bunch of mentors and just listening to what they had to say. It helped me keep plunging ahead with my own second novel. I have a feeling this will be a book that I'll go back to again.
I'm especially jealous of my friend Jessica, who is planning to attend the workshop in the flesh next month. Maybe someday I'll get there (these things just aren't practical when you've got kids). An added treat for me was the afterword, by Oakley Hall, where he talks about how the workshop actually got started. It's the kind of grassroots venture that I'd love to start myself someday. Maybe on the east coast. With a big huge garden, where the writers and I can plant and pick organic produce, and maybe a theatre for workshopping plays. Maybe.