David Shields breaks form

"Write what you can't shut up about!"

York College of PA hosted David Shields as its 2011 Writer-in-Residence from March 23-26.  Shields gave a public reading from his 2008 memoir, The Thing about Life is that one Day You’ll be Dead.  His memoir in uniquely formated and challenges the reader to think about the facts of morality on a scientific level as well as a personal level.  Shields is often expectantly funny, poking fun at himself and at issues of death.  Other passages are dark and pointed, changing the mood towards the seriousness of death.

Through-out his reading and during the follow-up questions, Shields gave quotes and anecdotes.  While there were many, a few that he gave concerning writing were: “cut the fat” by “gold-mining your data dump” and “strip mine it for choice material.”  He also suggests using writing “as a way of out prison” and believes his completion of any written piece is a way to “retire it in his psyche.”

Shields’ writer workshop was held the last day of his visit.  Fourteen York College students, including myself, sat with a National Bestselling Author and had the opportunity to read our short stories to him.  After reading, positive points were discussed and constructive criticism offered by students, attending professors and Shields. 

Shields visit to York College of PA was a wonderful learning experience to all who took advantage of meeting this amazing author.  He broke from the traditional novel format causing quite a stir in the literacy world.  His views on creative non-fiction have cracked the traditional mold and opened the door that any format in writing will be taken seriously.


  1. Good point. I hadn’t thoghut about it quite that way. 🙂

Go ahead...take a swing. I'll duck and listen.

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