As a child, I loved to write. I can't remember ever not writing.
I was lucky enough to have a friend, Pat, who was as besotted as I was by books and writing. In our school vacations, we would curl up for hours on end, writing, writing, writing. Our furious scribbling would be broken only by the occasional bleat of “Pat… can you listen to this for a moment?" or “What's a word that rhymes with ‘autumn'?" [The answer: not much, unless you resort to ‘caught em’ or ‘sought em']
I suspect that there are a lot of writers who can identify with this sort of joy in creation. It still happens now — I can easily lose hours in my story world.
But it's not quite the same. Now, I also think of writing as a business. I want to write — it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, really — but I also want to get paid for it. I have to worry about deadlines and corrections and back cover blurbs and tax deductions.
Not so when I was a child, caught up only in the wonder of creating good guys and bad guys, amazing adventures, and heroic actions. I can still remember one perfect day. To me, it encompasses everything about the joy of writing.
I was sitting all alone, without a sound to be heard anywhere, getting ready to write the first words on a page of a brand new book. My ‘writing room’ was an enclosed section at one end of the back verandah, and right at that moment the sun was streaming in through the window, bathing me in warmth at my desk. I could see dust motes drifting slowly through the sun.
The desk at which I sat had been made by my grandfather, and had an old-fashioned lift-up lid. The legs were the curly iron supports of an old Singer treadle sewing machine.
I sat there, full of happiness, with a blank exercise book in front of me and a few carefully - aligned pens in the groove on the desk. I couldn’t wait to start. I was literally breathless with anticipation of the adventures to come.
I picked up the pen, and started to write.
The joy of writing. It's something you should never forget.
You’re a writer because you love to write; because you can't not write.
So when terrible things happen in the world, as they did on September 11, 2001 in New York; or when a Tsnumai wiped out hundreds of thousands of people at Christmas in 2004 - and it seems that nothing is worthwhile, and you will never feel really safe again - think of what gives you joy.
Not just your family.
Not just the happiness of living in a safe world.
Think of the joy you get from your craft — from your passion. And think: this might be what you were put on earth to do — live joyfully, doing what you love most.
(c) Copyright Marg McAlister 2001
Marg McAlister has published magazine articles, short stories, books for children, ezines, promotional material, sales letters and web content. She has written 5 distance education courses on writing, and her online help for writers is popular all over the world. Sign up for her regular writers’ tipsheet at http://www.writing4success.com/