January 19, 2014

Occasionally, I have one of those experiences where I go to an event and leave completely energized and inspired to go into the world and do great things. Luckily, it happened to me at the Bedford Post Inn Literary Series event last week. As a side note, the Bedford Post Inn holds a special place in my heart. Not only is it where I celebrated my 40th birthday at a beautiful luncheon with my closest friends and family, but it’s also where Grace, the main character in my novel On Grace, celebrates her 40th birthday at a beautiful luncheon with her closest friends and family. No coincidence.

The speaker last week, Dani Shapiro, is the author of eight books. Her latest book is Still Writing—a “memoir, meditation on the artistic process, and advice on craft.” I’m still in the middle, but it has already earned a permanent spot on my writing desk. I know I will refer to Still Writing regularly for inspiration, validation, and moral support.

Still Writing by Dani Shapiro

Still Writing by Dani Shapiro

There are so many nuggets that I am taking from Still Writing and that I loved from her presentation. A couple now (with more to come in future posts)…

Write a short, bad book. Dani writes, “One of my dearest friends began her last novel by telling herself that she was going to write a short, bad book… It released her from her fear of failure. It’s a beautiful strategy. Anyone can write a short, bad book, right?” The thought of writing my second novel is overwhelming. Writing a book is hard work. I sometimes can’t believe I’ve already done it once. But, yes, anyone can write a short, bad book. I can write a short, bad book. And just like when I tell myself I only have to run ten minutes on the treadmill and then once I’m on there I always end up running longer, I know when I sit down to write a short, bad book there’s a good chance I might write a long, good one.

Feeling like a fraud is universal. I’ve talked to so many professional women about this. Most have felt like posers at some point. Even writers like Dani Shapiro can feel that way. She writes, “We writers are a thin-skinned, anxious lot, and often feel like we’re getting away with something, that we’re going to be revealed, at any moment, as the frauds we really are.” I feel a lot better now.

Dear readers: buy Still Writing. There is wisdom in those pages. While you’re at it buy Devotion and Slow Motion, as well. Hell, buy all her books.

Dear Dani, I’m not stalking you. I promise. But here’s what I think of you: I think you’re beautiful. And you have really good hair. And I loved your skull scarf. And you’ve been on Oprah! I felt like a puppy hanging on your every word last week. I admire your work, your honesty, your humility, your dedication and commitment to your craft. I wish you were my sister. I know I could learn a great deal from you. Thank you for inspiring me.

Back to work on my short, bad book…

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