On the lust list: Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro

I started writing when I was fairly young. Having grown up on the fodder of Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, Anne of Avonlea and the likes of other such generation classics, I was mostly lost in words. To coin a well worn cliché, they were where everything was possible. Writing has always been a sort of magical place for me. I wrote in my  journals from the time I was 13 the original lot of which I destroyed once in a fit of panic at being “discovered” when I was 15. That led to a year or two of complete hiatus where writing was concerned. Perhaps it was a time of coming into my own, of beginning to realize that no one can judge my thoughts and feelings. I started again at 18.

Someone who I had known in a different capacity back then who had been the joy and pain of that writing rebirth first hand (and even been allowed to read those journals!), just a few months ago asked me if I am still writing and caught in the moment I uttered the blahest of all affirmative answers. Which is why when I saw this title appear on my Amazon check-this-out email, I couldn’t search for excerpts fast enough. And sure enough, Dani Shapiro in her new book (which totally shot to the top of the list of book I want now) had the penned down the words and thoughts I couldn’t summon that day when he asked if I was still writing.


“Still writing?” I usually nod and smile, then quickly change the subject. But here is what I would like to put down my fork and say: Yes, yes, I am. I will write until the day I die, or until I am robbed of my capacity to reason. Even if my fingers were to clench and wither, even if I were to grow deaf or blind, even if I were unable to move a muscle in my body save for the blink of one eye, I would still write. Writing saved my life. Writing has been my window — flung wide open to this magnificent, chaotic existence — my way of interpreting everything within my grasp. Writing has extended that grasp by pushing me beyond comfort, beyond safety, past my self-perceived limits. It has softened my heart and hardened my intellect. It has been a privilege. It has whipped my ass. It has burned into me a valuable clarity. It has made me think about suffering, randomness, good will, luck, memory responsibility, and kindness, on a daily basis — whether I feel like it or not. It has insisted that I grow up. That I evolve. It has pushed me to get better, to be better. It is my disease and my cure. It has allowed me not only to withstand the losses in my life but to alter those losses — to chip away at my own bewilderment until I find the pattern in it. Once in a great while, I look up at the sky and think that, if my father were alive, maybe he would be proud of me. That if my mother were alive, I might have come up with the words to make her understand. That I am changing what I can. I am reaching a hand out to the dead and to the living and the not yet born. So yes. Yes. Still writing.”

(Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life)


image credit: thehabitofbeing


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