The Joy in Writing

Another year of writing this blog comes to an end. A colleague at work the other day commented on this practice, wondering whether I have found it to be a good discipline. I think that to be true. I don’t quite write something every week, although most weeks I do – generally alternating poetry and prose. I sort of wind my way through each week, looking for a muse in some form or the other to generate a thought, or spark an insight. It doesn’t always happen, and when that it is the case, I sit downstairs in the basement on a Saturday night and start pondering the first thing that comes to mind. Generally something comes together. Writing is funny that way: sometimes it just clicks and other times, not.

I mentioned this to another colleague the other day; we were talking about academic writing in this instance. She was asking me about a paper I gave at a conference, and I could tell her that the paper under discussion nearly wrote itself. An idea fell in my lap, and I did some research around it, but the basic form of the essay was in place and I researched to span gaps and to strengthen pillars. But at other times, I do copious research; reading and reading with a view to finding some idea to chase after. For such a paper, every paragraph is pure effort.

I think, to some degree, I have been well served by another colleague of mine, who speaks of the classroom as a workshop, inviting students to test out ideas and play around a bit – not being too anxious about piety, or fidelity, or orthodoxy in his space. They can take on those concerns when they leave his class, or not. In a way, I find this space to be something like that. Here, I sit down and write and refuse to worry about my writing passing the muster of an editor, or a publishing gate keeper of some sort. I just write for the joy in writing.

But this joy, like so many other joys, is fueled by facilities empowered by practice. I write more easily when I write often, I think. And so, when it is time to write an academic piece, I think that the time I have spent in this workshop, or gym, or studio called “stillvoicing” has prepared me to get to work. Or at least that’s what I’m imagining today. The freedom this space affords, allows me to stretch in new ways, and develop new skills that make their way into a different kind of public.

And so I write: sometimes prose and sometimes poetry. I remember hearing Leonard Cohen in a CBC interview some years ago, where he said that being a poet is a verdict not a decision, or self-declaration. I suppose that is true for writers of other genres as well. Many people write; but I’m not sure how many writers there are, or poets, or artists. But then again, I don’t know that this much matters. If writing brings some joy, or meaning, or relief, that is reason enough to write. And perhaps, from time to time, that reason translates into something worth reading.

2 thoughts on “The Joy in Writing

  1. shoreacres says:

    I agree that regular writing is critical, even if what’s produced doesn’t meet our criteria for a ‘good’ piece. An example: for nearly two months, I never got out with my camera, because of my move. When I finally found an hour to visit a local nature center in mid-December, I was astonished by how truly bad my photos were. That’s not self-deprecation. They were bad. In that length of time, I’d forgotten how to use the camera: focus, exposure, and even composition were just terrible. It’s improving now, but it certainly taught me a lesson.

    There have been times in those same two months when I simply couldn’t settle down enough to write something new. Interestingly, the process of editing a few previously published posts served the purpose of re-engaging me, as well as reminding me that serving two masters can be an iffy proposition.

    I used to write pieces that appeal to me more than what I’ve done in the recent past, and it’s because I was spending much, much more time in research and actual writing. This year, some reallocation of the resource called time will take place, and I suspect some of the joy in writing will return.

  2. agjorgenson says:

    Glad to hear that some joy will return to your writing life! The non-writing life demands its share of us from time to time as well. The good news is that with a little space, this too can be fodder for creativity. I hope your New Year gives you exactly that: space so that you can again do what you love.

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