Writing with Joy

It seems quite popular these days for writers to wallow in the agony of their calling.  They must write.  It is an addiction, a compulsion, some kind of internal plague that should be avoided at all costs, if one can.

If not, if you are one of the poor sods preordained to this awful fate, well then, God help you cause no one else will.  You are going to be miserable, underpaid, frustrated, misunderstood, suicidal and likely abuse various substances just to get by really.  And there seems to be some kind of snobbery in this mentality.  If writing has chosen you against your will, if you do not go quietly into that dark night, but instead bellyache all the way, you must be one of The Great Artists. The Muses have raped you, poor thing, but at least they have chosen you.

All this is very hard for me to understand, because I thoroughly enjoy being a writer.  I am not a victim of it.  I am its willing lover.  I chose it.  I could have done a million other things well, but I chose this because it gives me more pure joy than anything I have ever participated in.  It’s better than sex, drugs, and chocolate.  To use Joseph Campbell terms it is my “bliss”.

When I write, time disappears.  I don’t squeeze out daily words.  I walk in worlds of my own making.  I meet the characters I have called into being and I am their goddess, heroine, historian, geographer, and wise woman.  I create rules of magic; I birth the monsters, and craft the curve of angel’s wings.

And so, when I read about someone’s agonized writing, I think they might be in the wrong career.  The Muses have wooed me, my friend.  We sleep together every night, our limbs tangled in the fluttering pages of my words.  Writing is my ecstasy.

The best book I have ever found on writing is Jane Yolen’s book, Take Joy.  In it she asks, “How could I not approach such other worlds with joy?”

The answer is- I couldn’t.  I wouldn’t do what I do, unless I loved it.

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Ripley Patton lives in a 22-foot camper in the woods of Southern Illinois with a cat named Lemmy. Her two young adult children, a daughter and a son, are her favorite people. When Ripley's not out exploring nature and getting her hands dirty, she's usually reading or writing a book.

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