Friday, December 2, 2016

Here's to the Gift of Writing -- by Rachel

There are days you totally get the prophet Jeremiah. He decides he’s not going to speak anymore, but the words burn like a fire shut up in his bones.
How often have you wished you were normal with no need to write? On those days where you’re trying to fit it all in: a full day of work, a kid’s basketball game, dinner and laundry, and somehow you’re supposed to find writing time too? There’s the agony of staring at a blank page and watching your book drop in Amazon rankings.
You’ve even decided to quit. Often. Finally, a friend tells you to get over it. “You’re a writer,” they say. “You know you’re not really going to quit writing. You always come back to it.” Of course you do, because you find the story is a hot coal in your hand until you begin writing it down.
So, if you can’t walk away from writing, isn’t it time to look at it from another perspective? “I suggest you learn to write not with blood and fear,” Jane Yolen says, “but with joy. It’s a personal choice.”
And there is joy, lots of it.
There is what drew you to writing in the first place: the thrill of a coherent story coming together scene by scene, characters who walk off the page, that zone, where reality falls away and you’re virtually swimming in your story world, and words become so sharp and real you’d swear you could taste them.
You were the one gifted with heightened senses and the words to go with them. So while your walking partner says, “Oh, isn’t this a pretty trail?” you see the arching trees washing the sunlight green with a cathedral’s light. You have words to describe the autumn breeze, clean and as crisp as chilled cider, and you can describe the sense that this place, this moment calls out to you like a forgotten dream.
You have the privilege of exploring and fleshing out new ideas until you get them exactly right (ideas, by the way, you almost certainly would never have come to unless you’d spent day in and day out with your fingers on the keyboard). 

And when you’re done, and the book is published, you receive emails saying things like, “I read your book and was so moved by it, I turned back to page one and read it again.” Wow, you think, did I actually create something that could do that?
You did, because you have the privilege of being a writer. Yes, the writing life presents some difficult challenges, but nature and hard work have developed a skill in you that is both beautiful and multilayered. A skill that makes you feel alive when you use it and when you share it with others. If you need to put publication aside for a time and write at your own leisure, by all means do. But don't sacrifice your craft.

Instead, when you’re having a thorny writing day or month, remind yourself how much better your life is because of writing. In fact, jot down a list of all the ways writing brings you joy or makes life better, and when you want to quit, take another look at it. Because writing is a gift. And to remember that is the way forward.


  1. Replies
    1. Ha! So true. But I'm thinking I'm not alone in my beautiful, complicated writing addiction.

  2. Thank you so much for refreshing my joy in writing, and most especially the joy of having you as my critique partner. Hugs to you.

    1. Of course, Christine. We keep each other at it, don't we?

  3. Although I haven't published anything, I love writing and the inspiration it brings. Thanks for the inspiring message!


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