Still Writing: The Perils & Pleasures of a Creative Life ~ Dani Shapiro


I can’t remember now how I came upon this book. Probably a reference in a reference in a book I once read. Whatever the source, I decided to borrow it from the library rather than spring for the $9.99 on Kindle. I read so many of these books, I thought, I don’t need to buy every one. Besides, they all say the same thing (more or less), don’t they? Well, yes and no. Nothing in this book will bring you to your knees or prompt invective or even be something you’ve never heard before. No, this is a quiet book.

Yet I have copied more quotations, written more “notes to self” while reading this book than any other I have read in the same genre. Hmm, is that enough of a recommendation? No? Okay, so you judge for yourself:

On Confronting the Blank Page
“Start small . . . it’s impossible to invoke an entire world at the start. But it is possible to describe a crack in the sidewalk, the scuffed heel of a shoe. And that sidewalk crack or scuffed heel can be the point of entry, like a pinhole of light, to a story, a character, a universe.” (15-16)

“Build a corner. This is what people who are good at puzzles do. They ignore the heap of colors and shapes and simply look for straight edges. They focus on piecing together one tiny corner.” (17)

On Identity
“The page is your mirror. What happens inside you is reflected back. You come face-to-face with your own resistance, lack of balance, self-loathing, and insatiable ego–and also with your singular vision, guts, and fortitude.” (4)

On Craft
“As a writer, I assembled and arranged the pieces of my grieving young father on the page until they became a portrait–true to memory, reporting, imagination. A collage and an elegy.” (26)

“I’ve long envied those artists who work with materials such as these–clay, marble, granite, wood–because I imagine the feeling is one of collaboration. The material itself contains the shape, the solution. It imposes limits, parameters. If the artist looks and listens carefully, the answer will be revealed: an arm, a thigh, a pattern, an angle, the drape of a robe.

The blank page offers no such gifts.” (42-43)

I liked this book. Enough to fork over a belated $9.99.

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2 replies

  1. Thanks for the reviews – it helps a lot!

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