January 23, 2014

Dani Shapiro's Courage

Reading Dani Shapiro's lovely Still Writing.  I love this bit!

Dani Shapiro (via)
John Updike once called fiction “nothing less than the subtlest instrument for self-examination and self-display that mankind has invented.” Engagement with this most subtle of instruments requires daily summoning of stamina, optimism, discipline, and hope.  We are in the ocean, yes.  We are constructing the very thing that holds us.  We have nothing to latch on to.  If beginnings and ends are shorelines, middles are where we dive deep, where we patch holes, where we risk drowning.  This is no time for half measures. We must meet the page with everything we’ve got.  We must lay every last bit of ourselves on the line, to, in the words of Annie Dillard, “spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time.”
You might think this requires fearlessness.  I used to think so, too, which was a problem because I am anything but fearless.  Shellfish, bees, thunderstorms, airplanes, snakes, bears, random allergic reactions, black ice are only a few of my phobias.  I am not a risk taker, not in the physical sense.  You won’t catch me hang gliding, or even waterskiing.  But when I’m alone in a roomsay, on the chaise lounge, for which I haven’t budged since my first cup of coffee, the sky an overcast gray, the house emptyI am compelled to take risks.  Because there’s no point, really, in spending one’s life alone in a room, out of rhythm with the rest of humanity, unless the stakes are high. What will today bring? I hold my breath, dive down.  Come to the surface, gasping, empty-handed.  I catch my breath, then dive again.  Maybe this time.  I reach for treasures in this underwater landscape.  Ones that only I can see.  Ones that, should I discover them, will be mine and mine alone.  I suppose this requires a certain kind of courage.  But courage and fearlessness are not the same thing.  Courage is all about feeling the fear and doing it anyway.


Ladyluck said...

I've recently finished two of her memoirs. Really enjoyed them.

Tamara said...

I just discovered her! Which should I read next?!

eLPy said...

I just finished "Still Writing"! It really is a great book from start to finish and I'm sure I'll be coming back to some of my bookmarked pages and Kindle notes!

Hope you're still enjoying it! It's pretty cool isn't it to read the stories of someone else about their experiences as a writer and be able to relate to them no matter how different that person is?


Tamara said...

I am! I haven't quite finished it, and that's a great place to be. :-)

It really is. It's our war stories. We use our medium to communicate our stories about our stories - haha!

Happy writing!