Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Devotion and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, The New York Times Book Review, the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and has been broadcast on “This American Life”
I just scrolled back to the beginning of this blog. It took some doing. I started Moments of Being on February 3, 2007. I had no idea I’ve been at this for more than decade. Like many of the paths I’ve taken in my writing life, it has been meandering, full of unexpected beauty as well as unanticipated challenges. It began accidentally and then I committed to it on purpose. Why did I start a blog, ten years ago? Because my publisher wanted me to. I had a book coming out — my novel Black & White — and a blog was the thing to do. I resisted. My publisher persisted. So I thought and thought about what I could blog about that would continue to feel interesting, both to me and to anyone who might read it. When I began, it was with some words about the creative process. What is it to grapple with the blank page, day after day, month after month, year after year?
My book Still Writing is entirely a result of having begun this blog. Not because I created the blog with the intention of turning it into a book someday. I did not. But people kept writing to thank me for the blog. They told me I was doing something useful. How often is a writer told she’s doing something useful? So I wrote Still Writing — never once looking back at what was on this blog. A blog is a blog, and a book is a book. They are different species, and require very different processes. For instance, when I’m finished writing here today, I will hit publish and be done with it. When I write a book, it takes years, as it should.
Those of you who follow me know that I haven’t really been keeping up Moments of Being. It has been languishing. I love it — but my time and energy have been moving in different directions. I’m not saying I’ll never post here again — but I suppose I’m hitting a pause button. I’ve been writing shorter and much more frequent mini-essays on Instagram, and I’d so love it if you’d follow me there. I find it’s a wonderful, warm community and a way of staying in regular touch. I’ve also created a show on Facebook called Office Hours — and now that I think of it, it’s very much an outgrowth of the ideas I’ve been developing here over the years. Facebook asked me to create a show, and I thought and thought — just as I did a decade ago. What can I talk about on a regular basis that will be exciting and inspiring to me, and to others? Once again I found myself wanting to delve deeper into the creative process. There is doing the work, and then there is thinking about what it takes to do the work. Both interest me enormously. If you follow me on Office Hours, you can ask me questions and I will try to answer the questions that seem to be of interest to the most people.
Publishing has changed enormously over the last decade — anyone who spends her life writing books will tell you this. The world is noisier. More is expected of writers. But ultimately as I write in Still Writing, a writer is someone who writes. I’m grateful to all of you who have been so kind and supportive of my latest memoir, Hourglass. I’m hard at work now on a new book that is taking everything I’ve got. So come say hi on Office Hours and on Instagram, and let’s continue the conversation!