I’ve Got Joy… and Happiness, Too

“One joy scatters a hundred griefs.”

— Chinese proverb

Today, let’s talk about joy in the writing life. And why not its red-headed, cross-eyed cousin, happiness, too?

I know, I know. Happiness isn’t in vogue, is it? We’re supposed to be all post-post-modern and deconstructionist, supposed to be too cool to care about such things.*

Here’s the thing. As writers, especially writers seeking publication/external validation/an audience for our work, we need to forget being cool and look for happiness wherever we can find it. Because, honestly? The publication process has plenty of the other stuff for us all. Dish after dish of hot, steaming rejection, tables full of despair, and wafer thin mints for the “successful” in the form of brutal reviews from Kirkus, etc.

Happiness matters. Even little scraps of it. Maybe Lolcats do it for you. That works.

For me? After a bad day of writing, all it takes to bring me back is a margarita with a friend. An inappropriately funny website shared with my older son. Belly farts on my eight year old’s stomach. (Hold that thought. I have to go do that now. Back in a minute.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Happiness. I’ve been meditating on happiness in general and Writer Happiness in particular because I’ve been thinking about why so many writers avoid the page – including me, at times.

I think it’s easy to take all the rejection to the page with you, to open up your WIP file while you’re playing your Soundtrack for Failure in the background.

I think, maybe, we forget how to experiment with the words, how to build the worlds we’ve imagined with a sense of joy and wonder, rather than fear and foreboding. We forget it’s supposed to be fun, and joyful, and more about the process than the product.

We forget how to play.

When was the last time you wrote with abandon, with joy, with a smile on your face and your fingers flying on the keyboard? That feeling? It’s heaven.

I think, maybe, that’s part of what my favorite storyteller was talking about when he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I wish you all joy this week, and happiness, too. Play with your words!

And if any of you need a margarita with a writer friend? You know who to call. 😉


Nikki News: My flash fiction piece is still up! Thanks so much for the comments. I have another story coming out next month – links in a week or so. And I’m almost done revising Dark House… my next story is impatiently nudging at me. Can’t wait to cut loose on it!

* I never was cool. I always cared too much. WAY too much. I teared up in my graduate lecture when we were discussing Toni Morrison’s Beloved. My tears brought the class to a halt. “Wow,” said one of my classmates. I can’t remember the last time I cared that much.” I thought that was kind of sad, actually.

I wish I could say that it was only great works of literature that gets my tear ducts working, but it’s not. I also cry for Hallmark ads, seatbelt PSAs  like this one, and when my kids are on stage anywhere, anytime.

I always have been a huge dork. I’m okay with it.

Posted in Children's Fiction, Miscellaneous on 06/17/2011 08:09 pm


  1. I can so relate to the tears when the kids are on stage, or celebrate any major milestone. Margaritas soon!


  2. Hey, I just caught “Change” at FF Online. A really nice story. Especially love the style, your voice in this. Yep, I’ve had a host of rejections from them (but the stories sold elsewhere later). Good luck on future writing. I’ll keep an eye out.


  3. Such a good post! And SO true, too! I know I often get bogged down in my failures, so thanks for the pep talk ( : I’m off to do some finger-flying typing now!


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