Sunday, July 23, 2017

Still Writing

So much of life can conspire to keep us from writing. It takes a strong will to resist the urge to surrender to the vicissitudes of life—the frustrations of rejection, the disappointment of reviews, the critical (often negative) comments made by people who don’t understand what it means to write and who ask if we're still writing, as if by now we should have grown up and gotten a “real” job.

Those of us who manage to survive as writers, who continue to put words on paper, to write our stories, poems, and essays whether or not our work finds a publisher, have managed to endure the challenges of writing through the years because early on we understood the need to reach out to other writers, to welcome their support when we felt we’d come to a dead end, and to offer our support in return when the roads our friends and colleagues followed happened to disappear unexpectedly into the dark.

If you are looking for a writing guide written by someone with the kind of gentle, soothing, and supportive voice that can calm the nerves of the most anxious writer, whether a novice or a seasoned professional, you might want to pick up a copy of Still Writing by Dani Shapiro, the author of numerous memoirs and works of fiction, who has taught writing at Columbia, NYU, Wesleyan, and The New School.

Gifted with insights about the writing process from her own years of experience, she offers chapter-by-chapter advice on how to navigate the tricky shoals of this often crazy, often frustrating, and often unpredictable craft.

Here are some of her thoughts, just to give you an idea of what you’ll find in the book: 
The writing life requires courage, patience, persistence, empathy, openness, and the ability to deal with rejection. It requires the willingness to be alone with oneself. To be gentle with oneself. To look at the world without blinders on. To observe and withstand what one sees. To be disciplined, and at the same time, take risks. To be willing to fail—not just once, but again and again, over the course of a lifetime. 
Writing, after all, is an act of faith. We must believe, without the slightest evidence that believing will get us anywhere. 
Practice involves discipline but is more closely related to patience. 
It is the truest lesson I know about writing—and about life—that we must always move in the direction of our own true calling, not anyone else’s. 
I try to remember that the job—as well as the plight, and the unexpected joy—of the artist is to embrace uncertainty, to be sharpened and honed by it. To be birthed by it.
Take a look at her book if you get a chance. You won’t find a more compassionate, nurturing guide to help you keep writing.

And for more info about Dani Shapiro, visit her website:


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