Write for Joy

In Craft, General, Musings on June 26, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I, like countless other writers, have wanted “the dream” to hold a published novel of my own creation in my hand since I was a little girl. In a third grade essay about careers, I wrote, “I want to be an authoress.”  Who knows where I got that term, but it embodies the passionate, zealous little girl I was who became an equally zealous writer over time. And the hunger to hold that book (or perhaps now to hold my Kindle as I admire the pixels of my words) has not gone away. I still want it. I want it for my talented writer friends, students and clients, too. BUT…

But something else has happened to me since my son was born two years ago. First, I have to tell you a story.

Not to get New Age on you here, but I love a certain Tarot deck known as the medicine cards, which are based on Native American symbols. During an intense period of time several years ago when my agent was shopping my last novel; I was pounding the desk to survive as a freelance writer; and I was revising my book Make a Scene I kept pulling one card out of that deck over and over: the hummingbird. That bird would not go away, no matter how deeply I buried it in the deck or picked with my eyes closed. That bird is all about joy–lightening up, not taking yourself too seriously, and being truly in touch with the blessings in your life. I was being slapped symbolically upside the head. And when my novel didn’t sell, and I realized I had to include editing and teaching into the freelance mix in order to have a livelihood, then found out that would all change because I was pregnant, I started to heed the bird’s call.

Now, the universe speaks to me directly in its funny little language of symbols and sends me actual hummingbirds as a reminder when I’m getting too hung up.

I just came back from spending an overnight trip with a kindred writer soul, Eros-Alegra Clarke. We talked a lot about purpose and craft, and doing what we are aligned with, rather than just trying to get published because we want the fame and glory. That all this talk of platform is good and necessary, but…the writer must write the best book she can, and hopefully that process brings you great joy.

That’s right: My writing strategy for the day is to find joy in the process. To be grateful for your gift, to hone it and learn and share it, but mostly to love it. 

When I pulled up to the hotel where I would be staying to meet Alegra, I found their logo (and then, when I was recounting my hummingbird story to her, an actual hummingbird zipped over our heads and buzzed us):

  1. That’s beautiful.

    Alegra and I have recently discussed (and I know you guys have as well) the motivation behind writing for some people. Writing has always brought me joy – even when it’s been tough. It’s a wonderful gift. Thanks for letting me celebrate it with you.

  2. Very lovely story, Jordan. I’m thinking of how I’ve been walking down a similar path. I’m working on a novel that I initially selected for the purpose of learning the novel structure. I felt it was a good choice because I wouldn’t care if I had to cut out characters or setting details because I wasn’t emotionally invested in the novel. Wrong. Somewhere along the way, I started to have fun and things got interesting. I started making choices because I did care about the characters. I started to relax and open up to all sorts of possibilities. The result is a kindness towards my work that wasn’t there before. I do want to write the best story I can, not because it has to be a best seller, but because it’s become something outside of me that I want to take pleasure in and share with others. Platform/promotion aside, it’s important to relish the act of writing too.

    Say hello to Alegra for me. I hope you see many more humming birds on your journey.

    Laurel Wilczek

  3. I love that I’m not the only one whose writing has been inspired by the Tarot. And, like you, the Universe has been speaking to me lately and guiding me by way of some very incredible and inspiring friendships. I don’t think it ever stopped speaking to me, I just stopped listening.

    You are right in that we should write for joy. But I also think we should live for joy. We should be proactive in seeking it. Because joy is a bit like your hummingbird. If you don’t see it often, you forget it exists. And no one knows better than I how that can affect one’s writing. Luckily I have had those incredible and inspiring friendships to remind me about joy.

    • Yes Kemari, I agree absolutely. I think that if you are living for joy, then your writing is only going to be part of that joy-making. You just can’t go wrong! And yes, friendships help, don’t they? Inspiration is a miraculous feedback loop.

  4. Thank you for this. You are a true inspiration!

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