Giving Yourself to Life

A Journal of Pain, Hope and Renewal

by Deborah Shepard

For twelve months Deborah Shepard kept a journal to help her with a chronic pain condition. Soon she found herself contemplating all of life’s pains and losses, including the devastating earthquakes that shattered her hometown of Christchurch. Searching for a way through, she began observing the natural world on her doorstep and reflecting on family, friendship, flowers, beauty, literature and art. By ‘giving herself to life’ she discovered the power of writing to heal. ‘It’s about learning to live fully in the moment in the midst of all the sufferings we as human beings encounter on a life path.’


Deborah Shepard is a biographer and teacher of memoir, and has a PhD in Film Studies. She began her writing career as a film and art historian. Her previous three books were critically acclaimed for documenting the contribution of women to the arts in New Zealand. In 2013 she was appointed to the Autumn Residency at the Michael King Writers' Centre, where she also teaches memoir. Giving Yourself to Life is the first of her autobiographical explorations in journal writing.


'This lovely journal, not made lovely by chronic pain, but deepened because of it. Humane, delicate and bold as the journals of May Sarton or Elisabeth Tova Bailey's observations of her snail.' – Elizabeth Smither, poet and novelist

'Slow, elegant and brave, this journal, a map of a year of constant pain, delves into the author's struggle to "live in the moment". Full of grit and stoicism, the writer makes a beautiful chart of a horrid thing. An admirable achievement. – Kate Llewellyn, poet and writer, author of 20 books including The Waterlily and her recent journal A Fig at the Gate

'Deborah Shepard does not shirk from taking the reader into difficult places, yet also rewards us with utterly beautiful and compelling writing.' – Cathie Dunsford, author and editor

'To anyone familiar with negotiating the parameters of pain, Deborah Shepard's personal story will resonate loud and clear.' – Wallace Chapman, TV and radio broadcaster

'Searingly honest, deeply inspiring.' – Vidyamala Birch, author of Living Well with Pain & Illness

ISBN: 9781877429118

Pages: 264

Format: 198 x 130 mm, b&w text, flexi cover with head and tail bands

Illustrations: 'Mutabilis' roses by Jacinda Torrance

Published: February 2015


Rights Available: World, except New Zealand and Australia