I don't know if you enjoy watching the late Bob Ross on his PBS show The Joy of Painting.
However, I really do.
I find it relaxing. Which is sort of funny, if you consider that I probably couldn't even paint a realistic looking stick figure.
I'm also moderately capable in basic construction, and I understand the theoretical methods of joining wood via dove tails, biscuits, etc. Yet, I stick to screws and nails, sometimes even screwing things together with metal plates or carriage bolts. I've never built any fine furniture that actually LOOKED "fine." In fact, I'm not sure I used the right "biscuit" word in the sentence above. Which doesn't keep me from watching videos about fine furniture construction, or even tools for said work. Because, these videos also relax me. My wife laughed that a video I watched about the different types of planes, and how to use them, "relaxed me" right to sleep a week or two ago.
A short while back, however, while watching Bob Ross painting green trees against a violet background, I suddenly snapped upright, ears pricked. I grabbed the PS3 controller and rewound the NetFlix video a few minutes back, to hear him again.
What he said was that he'd "agonized over paintings" many times in the past. But, he no longer agonizes over them. He just paints what he enjoys.
I've often stressed to my kids that we make decisions and choices in life -- even if we try to avoid making those decisions. Part of my mantra was always, "Maybe I could have made more money doing something else, not focusing on my writing while working only part-time jobs and taking care of you guys. But, this is what makes me happy. Though we can't buy you every toy, or take you to the Taj Majal, I get my happiness from spending time with you, and by writing."
But, Bob Ross seemed to be saying more. What I heard wasn't "I chose to become a painter because I liked it, or because it was easy." Instead, the message I heard was, "My painting works best when I enjoy the work."
Bob Ross's words made me realize that this "train" begins to roar when I find my Joy of Writing.
Now, don't get me wrong. Just because something brings you joy, doesn't mean it isn't hard work. If you don't believe me, ask a mountain climber.
Writing isn't easy. Just as I'm sure painting isn't easy. Or furniture making. Certainly, neither one comes easily to ME!
Sometimes, at certain places in writing a story -- particularly a long one -- the road ahead can loom like the Matterhorn. Even if my writing "train" is roaring down the tracks, if I spend too much time concentrating on that steep grade I have to climb ahead, my writing can just run out of steam. Maybe this has something to do with why I don't like to outline extensively. I'm sort of an "Well I'll cross that bridge or climb that mountain when I get there" kind of guy, anyway. So, it makes sense I might not want to dwell on too many details, for fear I'll build a mountainous mental ziggurat that will knock out my will to put the story on paper -- flesh the thing out.
I also realized that The Joy of Writing is why -- though I hold a journalism degree -- I write fiction. Fiction provides much greater joy, at least for me. I'm not bound by strict facts. I can write the ending the way I want it to end, not the way it really just seems to be struggling along. Which is largely why I never felt satisfaction writing eight column inches about a story with roots twenty to forty years old and no end in sight. No wonder so many reporters drink!
And, I don't think this means I can't write stories aimed at certain publications or editors. I find joy there, too.
Where do you find YOUR joy of writing? Or do you?