extraordinary books on writing – part one

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

Everything I know about life, I learned from the daily practice of sitting down to write.

You might read Still Writing as a memoir, I read it primarily as a book on the craft of writing.

I don’t think I have ever before compared any writer to Annie Dillard – for me Dillard is a supreme writer, incomparable. But after reading just this one book be Shapiro, I’m seriously considering putting her up there, at the top shelf, amongst the very best writers in my private canon.

It takes years to write a book- between two and ten years. Less is so rare as to be statistically insignificant.

– Annie Dillard

Dani Shapiro © Kate Uhry Photo

Like Dillard Shapiro is practical and poetical at the same time – actually in the same sentences. Her thoughts and ideas are so well written, so intimate and eloquent that one can easily get the impression of reading fiction, when in fact she is providing us with hard core pragmatical tips about how to lead a creative life.

Of course, there’s such a thing as having a (creative) gift. But the gift is useless if the writer doesn’t have the muscles of persistence, patience, the ability to withstand the indignities and rejection inherent in the life of any artist. Gifts are nothing without endurability.

Still Writing is a collection of short essays (1-3 tiny pages) to be read in small doses and re-visited.

Here are some lines to give you a sense of what I’m talking about:

There is a great expression in Twelve Step programs: Act as if. Act as if you are a writer. Sit down and begin. Act as if you might just create something beautiful, and by beautiful I mean something authentic and universal. Don’t wait for anybody to tell you it’s okay. Take that shimmer and show us our humanity. That’s your job.

Now, dear reader, I’m very curious:

Which are your favorite books on writing?

2 comments on “extraordinary books on writing – part one

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