TueNight 10: Susan Shapiro

“Have you taken Sue Shapiro’s class?” is a common question among aspiring (and successful) writers.  Shapiro is known for her wildly popular “instant gratification takes too long” method — a fast-track from writing to publishing a splashy piece by the end of her workshop — taught at NYU, The New School, Columbia University and privately at her home. It’s led to thousands of impressive bylines and 150 acclaimed books by her students, both fiction and nonfiction. An award-winning writing professor, Susan freelances for the New York Times, Washington Post, WSJ and NY Magazine and is the bestselling author/coauthor of 12 provocative first-person books that her family hates, including UnhookedFive Men Who Broke My Heart, and Lighting Up: How I Stopped Smoking, Drinking, And Everything Else I Loved In Life Except Sex. “At this stage in my life, I love that I know who I am, I have much more confidence and business acumen. I’m glad I’ve finished with a lot of superficial drama, conflict, tension and insecurities so I can really focus on my work…chronicling my past drama, conflict, tension and insecurities!” Here’s her TueNight 10:

1. On the nightstand: Books by my former students! The novels Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson, Life During Wartime by Katie Rogin and Jane is Everywhere by Crystal Jo Reiss. And the memoirs For Single Mothers Working as Train Conductors by Laura Esther Wolfson, Somebody’s Daughter by Zara Phillips, Suzy Hansen’s Notes on a Foreign Country, and This is How I Save My Life by Amy B. Scher. I’ve been teaching so long with so many brilliant former students, that’s whose names I now drop.

2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Being a workaholic. I still work 50 hours a week.  A former addict doesn’t just quit being obsessive. So now I’m addicted to writing, books and book events. My shrink calls press “my new heroin.”   

3. Jam of the minute: Bob Dylan, always, forever though lately I went back to his 30th anniversary special where singers with beautiful voices cover his songs.  I wrote about falling for him when I was 13 in this cool new anthology Idol Talk.

4. Thing I miss: My father, who I lost in December. I’ve been writing about him a lot, trying to keep him alive.

5. 80’s crush: The luminary poets Joseph Brodsky & Yehudi Amichai who I knew from NYU when I did my masters there.

6. Current crush: My husband CR (celebrating our 22nd wedding anniversary this month).

7. Will whine about: Having a sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant divider-in-chief who tears families apart and is bringing out the worst in our country.

8. Will wine about: I quit drinking, smoking, toking, chewing gum and diet soda so now I only drink water and green tea. I’m very boring. Unless you’re a student or colleague who wants advice about your writing. Then I’m fascinating.

9. Best thing that happened yesterday: My 19-year-old niece Andrea Shapiro came to visit us in New York for five days. She studies acting and musical theatre, so we’re going to see some Broadway shows.

10. Looking forward to: Launching my new writing book The Byline Bible in August in Manhattan, Michigan and LA. I was able to include 50 pieces by former students — many debuts that led to books. So it’s going to be exciting to do group readings. First events are Friday, August 10 at the Writer’s Digest convention at 3:15 and then later that night at 6pm at Shakespeare & Company. Save the date!

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