Dani Shapiro

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“When I sit down to meditate, I feel much the same way I do when I sit down to write: resistant, fidgety, anxious, eager, cranky, despairing, hopeful, my mind jammed so full of ideas, my heart is so full of feelings that it seems impossible to contain them. And yet...”

The title of this book, The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life, explains, elegantly, exactly what it is. (More on that in a second.)

Dani Shapiro (b. 1962), a best-selling memoirist who writes about her own life in a non-ironic, non-sentimental unique way. She generously reflects on the most interesting and personal subjects of a creative life; the living, the creating and the existing. Not the producing.

Of the numerous things Shapiro shares, above all are the strength and danger of our inner censor, a need for mentors, collected precious things we keep nearby, the mutual benefits of rest and play, and the difference between rhythm and discipline. I certainly keep this book close and open it often.

I used the word “elegance” deliberately, elegance is completeness plus modesty. Nothing present is unnecessary, and nothing necessary is absent. This book.

For more on the fear of creating, grab Rollo May’s critical read on the effects of fear on creativity. On the benefits of rest and play, pick up Alan Lightman’s In Praise of Wasting Time