Sharing the Joy
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.