- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (Oct. 1 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802121403
- ASIN: B00JV5U1EK
- Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 18.4 cm
- Shipping Weight: 299 g
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,150,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life Hardcover – Bargain Price, Oct 1 2013
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"A practical, wise, and inviting guide to [Shapiro's] 20-year journey as an author and teacher."--"Elle"""Still Writing" offers up a cornucopia of wisdom, insights, and practical lessons gleaned from Dani Shapiro's long experience as a celebrated writer and teacher of writing. The beneficiaries are beginning writers, veteran writers and everyone in between."--Jennifer Egan"Writers need hope. Writers need help. Thank you, Dani Shapiro." --Michael Cunningham"Dani Shapiro has written a wise, pragmatic, and soulful field guide to the writing life. "Still Writing" is filled with honest words to not only live by but write toward. Shapiro has created a well-drawn map for the lost, the weary, and the found. I loved it." --Terry Tempest Williams"One of those rare books that is both beautiful and useful. "Still Writing" is an exploration of the writing life, lit up by Shapiro's luminous voice."--Susan Orlean"A thoughtful examination of [Shapiro's] life and the creative process that has defined it....Cleareyed, honest and grounded."--"Kirkus Reviews"
About the Author
Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Devotion and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, Vogue, The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, and has been widely anthologized. She has taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, The New School and Wesleyan University, and she is co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. She is a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure.
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Reading this book felt lovely and indulgeant, like a bar of good dark chocolate and a glass of red wine in front of the fire. I found comfort, courage, inspiration, laughter and relief in its pages. It's a book primarily about process, but she's got some really good craft tips sandwiched in there. If you're looking for an in-depth book about craft, this is not it, but if you're looking for the feeling of sitting at a table one-on-one with a writing mentor who has been there and knows you can go there too, this tops the list.
Our book club member, Kira Hug writes:
In Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, author Dani Shapiro shares a collection of stories, meditations and advice about her own creative life, providing exceptional insight for all creative folks (like you!), not just writers.
Together, we’ll follow Dani’s guide and extract a layer of technology from our own creative lifestyles.
Actionable Books summarizes the best business books online through our book club. Check out Kira's full summary of Still Writing! [...]
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
For me, this book serves as a reminder that despite the push toward science and mathematics in our schools today, creative endeavors in writing, art, etc. are still worthy. Not to say that those who love science or math aren't creative - they are. I remember speaking with a computer programmer once and he told me that he found what he did very creative. Often to those of us outside of a discipline, we don't see the draw of it.
What I enjoyed about the book was the prevailing lesson that you don't need to wait for The Big Idea before you sit down to write, to sculpt, or whatever your endeavor is. You just need to begin and the story, sculpture, picture will emerge. Shapiro also echoes what I've heard time and time again about your chosen work: discipline. Show up. Be present.
Some favorite moments:
* Don't think too much. There'll be time to think later. Analysis won't help. You're chiseling now. You're passing your hands over the wood. Now the page is no longer blank. There's something there. It isn't your business yet to know whether it's going to be prize-worthy someday, or whether it will gather dust in a drawer. Now you've carved the tree. You've chiseled the marbled. You've begun.
*When two people who shouldn't be married to each other bring a child into the world, that child - I'm distancing myself here, making myself into a character - that child cannot help but feel as if she's navigating the world on a borrowed visa. Her papers aren't in order. Her right to be here is in question.
*I sit down everyday at around the same time and put myself in the path of inspiration...If I don't sit down, if I'm not there working, the inspiration will pass right by me, like the right guy in a romantic comedy who's on the other side of the party but the girl never sees because she' focused on her total loser of a date.
*I haven't waited to be in the mood. I've just gone ahead and done it anyway, because that's what I've been doing for years now.
*She is practicing, because she knows that there is no difference between practice and art. The practice IS the art.
*It would be many years before I began to understand that all of life is practice: writing, driving, hiking, brushing teeth, packing lunch boxes, making beds, cooking dinner, making love, walking dogs, even sleeping. We are always practicing. Only practicing.
*"Know your own bone," Thoreau wrote. "Gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, gnaw it still." Of course, the beginning of this powerful piece of wisdom is: "Do what you love." In order to do what we love - whether we are woodworkers, legal-aid attorneys, emergency room physicians, or novelists - we must first know ourselves as deeply as we are able. Know you own bone. This self-knowledge can be messy. But it is at the center of our life's work, this gnawing, this unearthing. There is never an end to it. Our deepest stories - our bones - are our best teachers. Gnaw it still.
*When I first learned of Buddhism's eight vissicitudes - pain and pleasure, gain and loss, praise and blame, fame and disrepute - I was taught that it is unskillful to compare. We will never know what's coming. We cannot peer around the bend. Envy is human, yes, but also corrosive and powerful. It is our job to pursue our own dharma and covet no one else's.
She let's you know that
we've all been there before and most important priority is not to lose focus.
Trust the process. Embrace the struggle. Stay calm and ride it out. Even when its uncomfortable.
It will reward you in more ways than you'd expect. It's the writing that matters.
No single writer has the right and only way.
Each writer has to find what works their best and honor it. Showing up regularly. Commit.
Ms. Shapiro shows that it can give an enriching life if you seriously open up to all. Teaching you about yourself, your life and even the past.
It has garnered a place on my 'most favorite' shelf..
The book shows how life and writing are two inseparable strands in one rope. Dani Shapiro's life experiences, and the emotions they evoked, helped shape her books, and it is the same for us. She grew up as the lonely, only child of nervous, finicky parents who had her late in life. She lived with the pressure of being her creative mother's muse from a young age. Later, Shapiro's own baby boy was born with severe medical needs. Even though he grew to be a healthy young man, the mark these experiences left was branded on her soul.
The section on Beginnings has to do with adjusting our mindsets not only at the start of fresh projects but fresh days. Dealing with our inner censure (she calls hers a toxic little troll), our jigsaw puzzle minds, setting up conducive work environments and facing blank pages are some of the topics dealt with here. She also discusses good reading habits, picturing our audiences and giving ourselves permission to write.
Next comes Middles. This section helps us through those times when we've launched out okay but can't see any land in sight. Keeping in touch with our inspiration, clinging to trust, enjoying the rhythm, and perhaps having to backtrack and begin some parts again are some of the features. She helps us to examine our optimistic expectations that our writing projects should get easier at this point. I particularly appreciated Shapiro's comparing the middle of a story to humans who are considered middle-aged in true life.
Finally, her thoughts about Ends holds a congratulatory note that we've got so far. She discusses the promotional and business side of writing, as well as deadlines imposed by either ourselves or the world around us. Impatience is examined, and Shapiro warns us not to make the fatal mistake of pushing too quickly for shore as soon as we see the faint glimmer of a hazy horizon. Some authors may like her cautions about considering how family and friends may react to what we choose to disclose in our writing.
If you do get this book, I'd recommend that you keep a notebook and pen handy, as it's full of ideas which can't help making us say, 'I have something I can add to that.' I love the way Shapiro finishes with the title of her book. 'I am changing what I can. I am reaching a hand out to the dead and the living and the not yet born. So yes, I am still writing.'
resolve to want to be "good" which includes drawing on her parents and their influence, education. The reader, through the
book, absorbs the intensity Dani Shapiro has about writing and how it is really who she is,
After buying this book at the airport, I finished it within a few hours and went immediately onto amazon. I keep ending up coming back here to buy more copies to gift for friends. If you are a writer, actor, involved in the film or creative industry at all, this is a must read. Shapiro truly has a gift with words, theres no doubt about it- Just purchased one of her fiction books to see how it compares