As I wrote back when I posted on John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, I enjoy reading books on writing, even though I’m not a writer, or at least a creative one, myself. The same holds true for Dani Shapiro’s new book Still Writing. The book is part memoir, part writing guide, part inspirational text. I found it less useful as a reader than some of the other books on writing I’ve read, as it really is aimed more directly toward creative writers than the others, but it was still interesting and enjoyable. The book is written in short sections, generally only a couple pages each, that take on a different aspect of writing — facing the blank page, for example, or developing a writing schedule that works for you, or dealing with feedback from readers. The sections often tell stories from Shapiro’s life — her upbringing as an only child with unhappy parents, for example — as a way of describing what shaped her identity as a writer. By doing this, she gives readers a reason to trust her and to take her advice seriously. Her persona is warm and wise. I imagine that if I were a writer and were looking for inspiration, I would find it here. As it is, the book was a window into the writing life that in moments made me wish I did write. But I believe strongly what people say about writing because you need to. Writers do it because they feel it’s something they have to do, and they would do it whether they got published or not. Mostly, I’m happy to be a reader, and to get to enjoy the fruits of other people’s hard labor.