Monday, August 30, 2010

All Joy No Fun

The blog chain has swung it's way back around to me once more. This time Eric started things off with this question:

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being a writer? What is your greatest reward from writing?

The most challenging aspect? Singular? As in I can only pick one thing? If this was a multiple choice question instead of essay, I wouldn't even have to look at the options. It doesn't matter if it's listed with

A. lack of confidence
B. rather lonely sometimes
C. finding time
D. motivational issues
E. staying focused
F. ideas needed
G. not getting discouraged

Oh, I could go on and one and on. An multiple choice that goes through the entire alphabet until we get to Y. and Z. Those would be the ultimate multiple choice options of:

Y. None of the above
Z. ALL of the above

And right there. Z. That's me. I'd fill that little scantron circle in so hard that the lead on my number two pencil would snap.

The most challenging aspect of being a writer for me, is well, being a writer.

Okay, yes, that sounds a little - or maybe a LOT - negative. But it isn't, not really. Because challenges aren't always bad. Nothing about writing comes easy, but maybe that's part of the reason why I keep doing it.

I think my attitude towards writing is best summed up by a recent article from New York Magainze. It was entitled: ALL FUN, NO JOY. The article isn't actually about writing, but rather about parenting. The subtitle is: Why Parents Hate Parenting. Still, I could easily change the headline to: Why Writers Hate Writing.

The article discusses the studies that have been done showing that couples without children are happier than those with children. There is a lot of talk in the article about the nature of parenting, the inherent difficulties, etc. However, what I really found compelling was when it questioned what happiness really is. Data for these studies was gathered by asking parents on a moment by moment basis throughout their day if they were at that exact moment happy.

Now I think almost anyone can imagine the reaction to being asked if they are happy while in the midst of - changing a diaper, or handling a tantrum, or telling a child for the 5 thousandth time to please pet the dog gently, or one of the other endless not super fun tasks of parenting. I can only imagine the harried parents being interviewed screeching back, "AM I HAPPY!?!?! AM I HAPPY!??!"

And yet despite this apparent lack of happiness, people say if they could do it again - they'd still have that one - or even multiple - children. The author of the article argues that maybe happiness is more than something we feel on a moment by moment basis. That perhaps there is a deeper happiness that comes from having having a purpose and being rewarded by working towards something - whether that something be raising a happy healthy person, or writing a brilliant book. In this odd way the challenges that make us miserable in the moment may actually make us happier in the end.

So, to sum things up. Writing, being a writer, that is my greatest challenge. And it is also my greatest reward.

What about you? Is writing a challenge? A reward? Or something else?

And to keep up with this chain you can find Shannon's entry before mine and Amanda's tomorrow.


  1. Oh, I LOVED that article, and I think your analogy is terrific, Kate!!!

  2. Yes, that was a good article. There are a lot of parallels between writing and parenting, aren't there?

  3. Wow, what a surprising and wonderful answer. Nice job!

  4. Wow, you came full-circle. The thing that's the best is also the worst. I like that. :)

  5. seriously excellent and I couldn't agree more!

  6. I'm glad you make the point that challenges aren't always negative. (And studies about happiness make me laugh - talk about subjective!)

  7. Ok, THAT was an awesome answer. I think I'll read it again just because it was so cool.

  8. That's a great answer. I say I love writing now, but I can so see myself mid-revisions cursing the day I ever put pen to paper.

  9. Wonderful answer to a tough question! It hit the nail right on the head :)