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Sharing the Joy

August 1, 2012

I was scrolling through the archives recently and came across an interview I did with Jane Hamilton a couple of years ago. Since she is an author whose work I admire, I took time to re-read the post. The response to one question in particular seems worth repeating:

” CODY:  Which part of writing do you most enjoy?

 HAMILTON:  I love it when, with some kind of magical harmonic convergence, everything starts to hum along, and you hardly know you yourself are present at work. (This is not a usual occurrence). It’s as if you’ve spun gold from straw; you look up and think, How did that happen? Also, I enjoy reading my work out loud to myself when it’s going well, when I can take pleasure in my own sentences and story.”

 I think one of the reasons Ms. Hamilton’s answer resonated so strongly with me was the contrast with some (most?) of my posts on this blog. I’ve written many times about the difficulty of writing but not very often about the joy. I’ve shared moments of inadequacy when the words wouldn’t come, but seldom (never?) the rush of joy when I felt I’d “spun gold from straw” or the pleasure of reading aloud a description or a bit of dialogue that got it right.

 Since I read a fair number of other blogs, I know this is common. Writers complain a lot … about the loneliness of writing (then turn around and say we can’t write because no one will leave us alone); about the discipline required (as if anything worth doing doesn’t require discipline); about the lack of time to write (which might be less of a problem if we’d stop complaining and just write); about the demanding people in our lives (what would we write about if we didn’t have them?). Why do we do this? I’m not sure. I think it’s at least in part because we’re obsessed with writing and don’t know how else to talk about it–possibly due to a misplaced sense of modesty. We’ve been taught that it’s not nice to brag. Fair enough. But is it any nicer to subject those around us to a litany of imagined woe when, in fact, we’re doing what we love? Granted, realization of the pain of writing is a necessary part of birthing a novel, but maybe we need to lighten up and broadcast the pleasures of our chosen vocation. Let’s share the joy.

 Having said all that, I’ll let you in on the reason for my time trip through the archives. Marielena, Gretchen, Sharen and I have each selected half a dozen posts that we feel are worthy of sharing with the world at large and are including them in a book. It should be ready in about a month. We’ll let you know when and where to look for it. Who knows? We may even brag a little.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2012 9:28 AM

    I had the rare occurence of experiencing Hamilton’s words while writing my latest novel, a real Southern yarn that really did come from some other place within me.

    In your interview with her, Sandy, she stated: “I love it when, with some kind of magical harmonic convergence, everything starts to hum along, and you hardly know you yourself are present at work. (This is not a usual occurrence). It’s as if you’ve spun gold from straw; you look up and think, How did that happen?”

    I believe it’s important to share this, because as you so wonderfully wrote, Sandy, we often get caught up in the “hard part” of the process and forget the joy of writing. So thanks for reminding me of the positives in writing and to remember to share the joy!

    • August 1, 2012 10:04 AM

      Congratulations, Marielena, on achieving that writing high. Enjoy! Silly, isn’t it, how hard it is for us talk about the joy?

  2. August 1, 2012 10:18 AM

    Well written, Sandy.
    I think those magical moments are what keep us going. They’re our “high”, for in a way writing is an addiction.

    Good luck with your project!

    • August 1, 2012 10:30 AM

      Thanks, Carmen. You’re right. Writing is an addiction, one I’m proud to share with so many others, past, present.and, undoubtedly, many more to come.

  3. August 1, 2012 12:15 PM

    Can’t wait to see the book!

  4. August 2, 2012 7:25 AM

    Nice post, Sandy. I have to believe all writers feel this—why else would they keep working, when the road is so rough and the rewards so uncertain? As to why writers complain in their blogs, I have a theory that combines two notions:
    1) We are told we have to have a blog, so even while wanting to immerse ourselves in our novels we must seek other content.
    2) Spotlighting conflict is so ingrained in us that when we reach for blog content, we grab first for the conflict (no one will let me write, an agent won’t accept me, etc.).
    This is a great reminder that joy can be interesting to read about—especially in small, blog-sized doses!

    • August 2, 2012 8:14 AM

      Good point, Kathryn. Writers are pulled in so many different ways now. We have so many things to entice us away from our novels and most of them are so attractive, it’s hard to draw the necessary line. I think this is true, not just for writers, but for everyone. To borrow a phrase from a very famous writer – it is the best of times and the worst of times. Thanks for stopping by. Interesting comment.

  5. neptune1021 permalink
    August 3, 2012 4:57 PM

    I enjoyed reading your post. Sometimes I complain to myself when I rewrite because the rewriting process is difficult, but when it’s said and done, I breathe a sigh of relief, run off to Giant and stock up on balloons and smile. I’ve got a book up my sleeve and working on another. God is good.
    Popple

  6. August 7, 2012 5:11 AM

    Oh my Sandy! I want to read more quotes like that, especially on the days when blogging etc. seems to be taking over my life. It has brought me right back to why I write and I am now going to adjust the time I spend on blogs and writer groups so that I can spend more time spinning gold from straw.

    Thanks for a great blog.

    • August 7, 2012 8:47 AM

      Thank YOU, Sheila, for stopping by. I hear you about adjusting your time to focus on a writer’s version of “going for the gold”. I’m trying to do the same. Good luck with your spinning.

  7. Sydell Voeller permalink
    August 7, 2012 9:30 AM

    Well said, Sandy! I agree wholeheartedly.

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