Monday, March 10, 2014

Reads for Writers: Still Writing by Dani Shapiro


From Kate's Writing Crate…

        Writers need support which we don't always get from non-writing family members and friends. They mean well, but it usually comes down to numbers: How many books, articles, etc. have I published? How many people read my blog? How much money do I make? They never ask if I wrote a great sentence today or if I solved a plot point.

        So when non-writers ask about my life, I usually say I'm busy writing articles or editing. Things they can see for themselves when the magazines I work for are delivered. I don't tell them I wrote six pages in my notebook yesterday and three more today that led to idea for a post that took me another four hours to write, rewrite, and polish.

        They're not interested in the details of writing and that's okay. I'm not always interested in their occupations, but as a writer I listen because I never know when a fact or incident may spark an idea.

        Usually writers have at least one writing friend because we need empathetic support. We discuss projects and share tips and ideas to keep ourselves going because writing is hard work.

        For more support, I love to read inspiring books about writing and the writing life. Most recently, I discovered Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro.
Speaking of support, or in this case the lack thereof, Shapiro chose the title Still Writing because people who know her keep asking her if she is still writing despite being the author of seven books, a writer of numerous essays and book reviews, and a writing teacher.
In Still Writing, Shapiro shares fabulous thoughts on the habits of writers, the stages of writing, and the tools needed along with the daily schedule she keeps to reach her writing goals.
She also discusses writers and teachers in her life like Virginia Woolf who make her "feel less isolated in the world. Though we are alone in our rooms, alone with our demons, our inner censors, our teachers remind us we are not alone in the endeavor. We are part of a great tapestry of those who proceded us. And so we must ask ourselves: Are we feeling with our minds? Thinking with our hearts? Making every empathetic leap we can? Are we witness to the world around us? Are we climbing on the shoulders of those who paved the way for us? Are we using every bit of ourselves, living these lives of ours, spending it, spending it all, every single day?" (p. 71)
Yes, writers daily fight their demons and squash their inner censors all while feeling, thinking, empathetically leaping, witnessing, and then, hardest of all, sitting still long enough to write down all we observe in our own voices and styles.
Witnessing life and capturing it creatively on blank pages requires bravery, clarity, and endurance. No easy tasks so we need all the support we can find because we are still writing.
Who do you turn to for support?

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