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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great wisdom for every creative endeavor
To be honest, I had never heard of Dani Shapiro before this book. I only found it through a post on Facebook that mentioned it. I will definitely be looking at the rest of her titles.

For me, this book serves as a reminder that despite the push toward science and mathematics in our schools today, creative endeavors in writing, art, etc. are still worthy. Not...
Published 15 months ago by Angela Risner The Sassy Orange

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What??
I'm really quite surprised by all of the 4 and 5 star reviews of this author's writing. I don't like to write a poor review, hence the 2 stars instead of 1, but I have to write because I can't help but be shocked at the good reviews of this book. The book's title implies a guide written by someone who is self-aware and has something to offer other creative people, but...
Published 5 months ago by S. Earle


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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great wisdom for every creative endeavor, October 12, 2013
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To be honest, I had never heard of Dani Shapiro before this book. I only found it through a post on Facebook that mentioned it. I will definitely be looking at the rest of her titles.

For me, this book serves as a reminder that despite the push toward science and mathematics in our schools today, creative endeavors in writing, art, etc. are still worthy. Not to say that those who love science or math aren't creative - they are. I remember speaking with a computer programmer once and he told me that he found what he did very creative. Often to those of us outside of a discipline, we don't see the draw of it.

What I enjoyed about the book was the prevailing lesson that you don't need to wait for The Big Idea before you sit down to write, to sculpt, or whatever your endeavor is. You just need to begin and the story, sculpture, picture will emerge. Shapiro also echoes what I've heard time and time again about your chosen work: discipline. Show up. Be present.

Some favorite moments:

* Don't think too much. There'll be time to think later. Analysis won't help. You're chiseling now. You're passing your hands over the wood. Now the page is no longer blank. There's something there. It isn't your business yet to know whether it's going to be prize-worthy someday, or whether it will gather dust in a drawer. Now you've carved the tree. You've chiseled the marbled. You've begun.
*When two people who shouldn't be married to each other bring a child into the world, that child - I'm distancing myself here, making myself into a character - that child cannot help but feel as if she's navigating the world on a borrowed visa. Her papers aren't in order. Her right to be here is in question.
*I sit down everyday at around the same time and put myself in the path of inspiration...If I don't sit down, if I'm not there working, the inspiration will pass right by me, like the right guy in a romantic comedy who's on the other side of the party but the girl never sees because she' focused on her total loser of a date.
*I haven't waited to be in the mood. I've just gone ahead and done it anyway, because that's what I've been doing for years now.
*She is practicing, because she knows that there is no difference between practice and art. The practice IS the art.
*It would be many years before I began to understand that all of life is practice: writing, driving, hiking, brushing teeth, packing lunch boxes, making beds, cooking dinner, making love, walking dogs, even sleeping. We are always practicing. Only practicing.
*"Know your own bone," Thoreau wrote. "Gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, gnaw it still." Of course, the beginning of this powerful piece of wisdom is: "Do what you love." In order to do what we love - whether we are woodworkers, legal-aid attorneys, emergency room physicians, or novelists - we must first know ourselves as deeply as we are able. Know you own bone. This self-knowledge can be messy. But it is at the center of our life's work, this gnawing, this unearthing. There is never an end to it. Our deepest stories - our bones - are our best teachers. Gnaw it still.
*When I first learned of Buddhism's eight vissicitudes - pain and pleasure, gain and loss, praise and blame, fame and disrepute - I was taught that it is unskillful to compare. We will never know what's coming. We cannot peer around the bend. Envy is human, yes, but also corrosive and powerful. It is our job to pursue our own dharma and covet no one else's.

Highly recommend.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book, October 23, 2013
By 
This review is from: Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life (Hardcover)
Still Writing is a collection of short essays (1-3 tiny pages) about Shapiro's life and writing. The book is divided into three sections: beginnings, middles, and ends. When I started the book, I was a bit iffy about it. I couldn't get comfortable with the format, and I felt like the essays didn't join together. But just like my friend's dog who needs to yank his blanket around before getting comfortable and going to bed, by the end of the beginnings section, I had fallen in love with this little book. Everything suddenly clicked. I had been reading lots of action SF&F books, and this book is the complete opposite of that. This little piece of creative nonfiction is quiet and thoughtful and needs to be read in small doses. With the constant little breaks with each little essay, you are subconsciously encouraged to put the book down and live your life a little more creatively.

I loved this book so much. It reminded me of one creative nonfiction class that I took and another one that I didn't take and regret to this day for passing up. I want to buy copies of this book and send it to my friends and to my creative nonfiction professor. I want to read this book again and underline it and write notes in the margin.

I am not a writer with a capital W, nor do I want to be. I like reading and the idea of being a writer sounds lovely, but I don't think I can do the time (I am not what you would call a self-starter, outside motivation is something that I really need). However, this book spoke to me. This is a book that speaks to anyone who lives a creative life or has lost his or her way.

This book is perfect in so many ways. Each sentence is thoughtful and each essay is "tight." At the end of each essay, I never felt like more need to be said. Shapiro was able to say what needed to say in just a handful of paragraphs each time. The flow worked well going from discussing beginnings, to middles, to ends. I want to reread the book again, so I can notice the flow at the beginning of the book better.

My only critique of this book is more of a wonder. Shapiro refers to some of her other books that she has written. I wonder, if you are familiar with Shapiro's writing that some of the essays would feel repetitive, because she discusses some of the events in them in this book.

I received this item for free in exchange for an honest review.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book!!!, October 7, 2013
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This review is from: Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life (Hardcover)
Danii Shapiro;s book will be a classic- like Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and Anne Lamont Bird by Bird. Her vulnerability, sensitivity, warmth and amazing stories warmed my heart and I learned SO much about writing!!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. Wise, pragmatic & honest. You write? Buy., October 4, 2013
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Writng is a murky business. Dani Shapiro is that clear, calm voice that soothes a writer's self doubts.

She let's you know that
we've all been there before and most important priority is not to lose focus.

Trust the process. Embrace the struggle. Stay calm and ride it out. Even when its uncomfortable.

It will reward you in more ways than you'd expect. It's the writing that matters.

No single writer has the right and only way.
Each writer has to find what works their best and honor it. Showing up regularly. Commit.

Ms. Shapiro shows that it can give an enriching life if you seriously open up to all. Teaching you about yourself, your life and even the past.

It has garnered a place on my 'most favorite' shelf..
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like Having A Private Writing Tutor, March 28, 2014
By 
Rural Writer (Falls Village, CT) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life (Hardcover)
Is it hyperbole to say this book changed my life? I don't think so. I have been a professional journalist for 30 years, but I never understood what it meant to be a Writer until I read Dani Shapiro's book. She has taught me by example how to approach the blank page with fearlessness and fortitude. She has given me "permission," to use her term, to write from my heart by encouraging me to dig into my soul. Whenever I feel doubts about my own writing, I pick up her book and read a few pages and then I'm back on track. But caveat emptor: Shapiro's definition of "writing" is demanding; it requires that you give all of yourself to the task. If you are ready to make that type of commitment, you will find "Still Writing" a source of strength and inspiration.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loving every word!, October 7, 2013
This review is from: Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life (Hardcover)
I can't wait to finish the book to write a review -- I love it. Shapiro just said the worst days are when a book is published -- how awful it is to put your soul in between two covers of a book and nobody notices or says anything -- the world keeps spinning -- my words not hers but you get the picture. I'm here to tell her and you that she need not worry -- this book is just as good -- better, in fact, as you'd expect -- than her previous ones. I couldn't wait for it to be published and I was right to be so eager -- it's fabulous. My only trouble is reading slow enough to take it in -- I want to gobble it up. It's a lovely book -- do yourself a favor and read it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It made me cry and laugh., December 6, 2013
This review is from: Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life (Hardcover)
This book literally made me laugh and cry. If I could give it more than five stars, I would give stars until the sky ran out of them.

A good friend of mine and I are both writers, and our styles are polar opposites. One thing that fascinated and enthralled me about this book was the way that Shapiro seemed to embody both of us in a single consciousness, and how she brought so many other writers into the picture who found endless combinations of the same elements that worked for them.

More than that, there are moments in this book that simply pierce through everything -- every last barrier that writers enfold themselves in, thick and thin and unacknowledged alike -- and strikes a match against that fundamental something that makes us what we are. Each time it flares, it leaves you suspended for a few moments in that place that is true and weightless, wondering what happened to the air in your lungs.

I am convinced that any writer who touches Still Writing already owns some piece of the same magic, and will recognize it when he or she sees it. Highly recommended, and then some.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This belongs in Every Writer's Library, November 7, 2013
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Dani Shapiro has written a beautiful and inspiring book that every writer or aspiring writer should read. She beautifully describes the struggle to begin, the hard work to continue and the insecurities and doubts a writer has when reaching the end.

As a self-published author, without an agent or a publisher offering support and guidance, I often feel as if I am writing in obscurity. Working on my second novel, Ms. Shapiro's book came to me at just the right time. Like a good friend, her words of encouragement and pearls of wisdom helped me reach the finish line.

I highly recommend this gem of a book to anyone who writes, who has thought about writing or loves to read and is curious about the writing process. This is a truly generous and thoughtful book. It should be in every writer's library. Thank you again, Dani Shapiro.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What??, August 22, 2014
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I'm really quite surprised by all of the 4 and 5 star reviews of this author's writing. I don't like to write a poor review, hence the 2 stars instead of 1, but I have to write because I can't help but be shocked at the good reviews of this book. The book's title implies a guide written by someone who is self-aware and has something to offer other creative people, but one is left with the impression she got an advance, but ultimately had nothing to offer except anecdotal rehashings from other books and descriptions of her lifestyle- which make her come across as privileged and spoiled. Good for her, perhaps, that she has a nice house with a lush landscape, and publishing deals, but one is left with the feeling that she is out of touch with the real world of those trying to actually live a creative life. She does little to create any empathy, or respect. Her success is baffling. This is decent writing, but forgettable writing. I was hoping for the inspiration I read in the other reviews and was left feeling ripped off, and like I wasted my time. If I didn't have a commitment to finish everything I start, I would never have finished this.
I found little in this book informative, new, educational, inspiring, interesting or relevant to living a creative life.
Choose "The War Of Art", "Strength to Your Sword Arm" by Brenda Ueland, Twyla Tharp's on the creative habit, or anything by Natalie Goldberg instead.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Writer's Treasure, December 19, 2013
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This review is from: Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life (Hardcover)
Reading Still Writing is like holding conversations with a loving author. Her short honest chapters expose the inner life of writers along with the realities of writing, peppered with constant encouragement. I've read more than 100 books on writing in my seven decades of life and this is my new favorite. Dipping into the chapters is for me pure joy. Worthy of being a gift to anyone who writes.
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Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life
Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro (Hardcover - October 1, 2013)
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