On Joy

A while back, fellow VCFA alum Lindsey Lane asked if I had a favorite quote about writing—and I did—and in January she posted mine in the “Quotable Tuesday” column in her blog, The Meandering Lane. After doubting myself and my writing last week, what a joy it was this week to re-read what I’d sent to Lindsey. My favorite quote comes from The Writing Life by Annie Dillard:

Annie Dillard

One of the few things I know about writing is this:  spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time.  Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now… Something more will arise for later, something better.  These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water.


This idea that something more will arise for later… that creativity begets creativity in the same way that love leads to more love, that it’s a growing thing, not something to hoard but something to give away because in the giving, somehow it grows into something even greater than it originally was… this is what excites me about writing. It’s what gets me up in the morning—this sense that I don’t yet know what might come of today’s writing. When I approach my writing with a sense of anticipation, of joy, of vulnerability because I’m opening myself up without knowing what I’ll find… I fall in love with the process. Again and again, I fall in love. It’s not about the finished product (well, yes, it is in the end, but it’s not along the way), but about the process of getting there.

For me, something about writing is therapeutic. It is spiritual. The process gives me a great sense of fulfillment. Now, I’m not talking about the business of writing. I’m talking about the process of creating something from nothing, a story from a blank white sheet of paper. I’m talking about wonder. About awe. About possibility, itself. About grace. About allowing my body to become a vessel through which a story tells itself. No, I’m not smoking anything funny while I’m writing this! I’m talking about joy. When I read Annie Dillard’s essays, I feel joy. That is what I love about writing.

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