11 December 2023

The Sheer Pleasure of Writing


What is the moment of greatest satisfaction for a writer? What's the carrot, the prize, the gold at the end of the rainbow? I’m not talking about the lottery win that most of us never get, like an Edgar or the New York Times bestseller list. Some will say it’s the moment when they get an acceptance letter or when they see their work in print. For others, it’s the magic of holding in their hands a book or a prestigious journal with their name on the cover. But I’m talking about a moment long before that, when we're actually plying our craft.

For me, the rush comes at the end of a session when the writing is going well. When I lift my hands from the keyboard after an intense few hours working on a piece of fiction, a poem, or even an inspired blog post, I feel suffused with satisfaction. It’s a physical feeling of delight that runs along my arms from my fingers to my shoulders and down my legs all the way to my toes. It’s a marvelous feeling. Often, it comes as a surprise. And it reminds me why I go on writing.

I’ve heard many times about the athlete’s high. Although I ran for many years and still walk every day, no sport or exercise has ever left me flooded with endorphins. I used to call myself the slowest runner in New York, and I wasn't kidding. No, it's writing until the wave subsides that leaves me tingling all over and ready for a nap with a big smile on my face.

Most of us know we'd be idiots to claim we do this for the money or the fame. So tell me, writers, what is it about our m├ętier that turns you on?

10 comments:

  1. Great question. I name three high points: 1. The moment a story idea appears out of thin air. 2. The "in the zone" phase when things snap together unexpectedly (i.e the solution to problem A turns out to be the solution to problem X much later). 3. A reader saying how much a story meant to them.

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    1. Rob, I love that thin-air moment too, except when it happens in the middle of the night, and I have to get out of bed to write it down.

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  2. I agree with Robert, especially 3. Recently, I received an email from a man who said he was divorced. Whenever he feels depressed, he rereads a collection of my ghost stories. (I’m stilll trying to figure this out.)
    Edward Lodi

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    1. Edward, don't look a gift fan in the mouth. If your ghosts are his comfort read, so be it.

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  3. For me, it's that magic moment when I know I have a story idea that is unique - an ending I haven't seen before, that I know will delight other people like me. I write the stories/books I wish other people would write so I could read them.

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    1. Melodie, now I have to rack my brains over the uniqueness (or not) of my stories...

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  4. I am not a writer. What would turn me one if I were are the booze, the broads, and the bounty. I am shallow (and totally unrealistic in my dreams).

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    1. Jerry, don't forget that noir heroes don't get happy endings.

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  5. I'm with Robert - that first idea when it comes is magic! Then comes a whole lot of hard work trying to get that idea to work. Then the "in the zone" stage, where you finally see how to make it all work! More magic! And of course, we all love it when someone tells us how much they loved our story / novel...
    It's the in between times that are a hard, hard slog.

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  6. Eve, at least with short stories the hard slog isn't such a long, long, loooooong, hard slog.

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