Still Writing by Dani ShapiroScars

I grew up the only child of older parents. If I were to give you a list of all the facts of my early life that made me a writer, this one would be near the top. Only child. Older parents. It now almost seems like a job requirement—though back then, I wished it to be otherwise. A lonely, isolated childhood isn’t a prerequisite for a writing life, of course, but it certainly helped.

My parents were observant Jews. We kept a kosher home. On the Sabbath, from sundown on Friday evening until sundown on Saturday, we didn’t drive, we didn’t turn on lights, or the radio, or television, and I wasn’t allowed to ride my bike, or play the piano, or do homework. This left me with a lot of time to do nothing. Most Saturday mornings, I walked a half-mile to synagogue with my father while my mother stayed home with a sinus headache.

Our house was silent and spotless. Dirt, smudges, noise—any kind of disarray would have been unthinkable. Housekeepers were always quitting. No one could keep the house to my mother’s standards. Every surface gleamed. Picture frames were dusted daily. Sheets and pillowcases were ironed three times a week. My drawers were color-coordinated: blue Danskin tops perfectly folded next to blue Danskin bottoms.

They say the portrait painter always paints himself.

Very true, so an interview like this is not so far from the heart of the matter when it comes to talking with any writer, fiction or non-fiction, be they intimate confessor or widescreen cultural commentator. I think we always speak to ourselves first, that we search through ourselves in relation to the world around us. Then we hopefully make it interesting to other people in a story or poem – both through what we say and how we say it. That’s the process of writing and it should always be the process of writing: an act of discovery as you write – or a journey at the very least.