Friday, August 08, 2008

Keeping Your Joy

I don't mind confessing that for awhile, I'd lost my joy when it came to writing. Which isn't to say I wasn't writing, just that it had become more of a chore and less of my heart's desire. Does that make sense?

Recently, about halfway through Nationals, my joy came back. It wasn't due to any workshop I attended or any author I talked to or any rousing keynote speech. (Not that those things might not have played into it, I can't say for sure.) I started writing one of those fabled "books of my heart" - a book that was just for me, a book I didn't really intend to foist onto my agent in hopes she could sell it, a book that was my dark reaction to some bad news. I've affectionately termed the story my "screw you" book. (The "you" being general, not specific.)

I'm loving the writing. Loving the storytelling, the character development, the worldbuilding...all of it.

Interestingly enough, it's not a book I'd consider particularly saleable - it's in a genre that might be dying, features characters people are probably sick of reading about. And I don't care. (It's almost like personal fanfic in a way.) Besides, happy is happy.

Best of all, it's inspiring me to go back to the book I was previously working on. That's got to be a good thing, right? do you maintain your joy? Any thoughts on this? Ever had an experience like this?


  1. Kristen--it's lovely to hear you've got your joy back.

    What do I do? I try to remember to play when I'm writing. It comes out better and I have more fun.

    Sorry I didn't walk up and introduce myself at National. Sometimes I become unaccountably shy.

  2. Any writer who says she's never had that experience is lying. Or delusional. Creativity isn't an endless font that never runs dry--sometimes it's hard, even when you're doing what you love every day.

    What I love about you is that you didn't let yourself wallow in it for months and months. You realized you weren't happy and you took steps to get happy again! Writing something just for you is a GREAT idea for getting over that. Sometimes if I'm in a difficult chapter or section, I'll skip ahead to the part I really want to write and that gets me going again.

  3. I'm doing the very same thing right now. I have a couple of deadlines, things I absolutely should be doing but instead I'm 10k in with a book that is bringing me so much happiness I can't wait to work on it every day.

    I'm glad that you've found your joy again. It's never fun to lose it.

  4. Oh great post. I've so been there. I've going to use you as inspiration. Writing should be a joy without the joy I think it shows in the story. Right now I'm writing for me too. For my own pleasure and to make my craft better.

  5. WTG! Glad you are back on the saddle. I was getting worried for a little while but I think writing the book of your heart can only be SPECTACULAR!!!!! Just like YOU!

  6. Kristen,

    I can so relate to this. I recently found my 'joy' again too, after ages of not writing. How? Similarly, by just writing the story for me, not worrying about how 'saleable' it might be. Am just having fun with it.

    Love the pic of the cat. Reminds me of the surfing kitty that was in the news last week.

    :) Pam

  7. I KNEW it! I did! Ask Jax, I told her. I said that you had a very deep and complex side and when that came out in your writing you would knock it out of the park.

    Go you!

  8. I've been there a few times and it's so tough. Different things have snapped me out of it each time -- once it was writing a book just for me. (That book is the one that landed me an agent, but still hasn't sold.) Once it was thinking of an idea I thought was exciting and marketable. (Jury's still out on the marketable part for that one.) Often it's been talking to friends and/or sharing a few laughs over drinks. This year a few workshops at Nationals got me charged up again. Let's hope it holds. :-)

  9. Madeline Hunter talks about writing your "f*ck you" book...and how when you let yourself go and quit trying to write to sell, you just write for the sheer sake of the love of writing...then you most oftentimes have a very sellable book in the end.

    I think too many times writers get wrapped up in the "I've got to sell" aspect and forget to love their characters and their story. No matter what in this's all about the writing. Yesterday, today, forever.

    Very proud of you!!