How Sonali Got Her Joy Back

To say this past week has been inspirational is to be needlessly understated. On Thursday I had tea with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, on Friday and Saturday I rubbed shoulders with Diana Love, Simone Elkeles, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and many more best-selling, talented writers. I mention these four specifically because they were generous enough to share their writing lives with us.

I literally cranked my brain and my heart open and listened and absorbed and swore to retain. I mean what kind of idiot drinks from the fountain of wisdom and then lets it all evaporate out her ears? OK, so let’s say such an idiot did exist, would she then not be un-idiotized if she wrote the nuggets of wisdom down to return to when idiocy comes a-calling again?

So, here’s a list of the things I learnt from these phenomenal women:

1) The one thing in common between Susan, Diana, Simone, and Chitra is that they unabashedly embrace being DISCIPLINED about their writing. They set a schedule, turn off the outside world, and they WRITE.

2) The one thing that completely differentiates these four from each other is their PROCESS. They write at different times of the day, aspire to different word counts and take completely different approaches to getting from the first word to the end of their stories. But irrespective of the how and the how much and the when, they turn off the outside world, and they WRITE.

3)  Each one of them believes that writing is HARD, or has been hard at one time or another, and will be hard as long as they do it. But they believe the only way to get past the hard is to turn off the outside world and WRITE.

4) Each one of these ladies was incredibly generous and unerringly helpful, but the one thing they said they couldn’t help anyone with was finishing their book and moving on to the next and then finishing that one and moving on to the next. You can only do that if you turn off the outside world and you WRITE.

OK, so maybe I heard only what I wanted to hear (needed to hear?) and my list veered off to take on my own agenda. But that was what I brought back with me. When I went to Spring Fling 2012, I was in search of my writing joy. I was firmly wedged in that dark space between wanting and getting. I was spinning my wheels in so much self-pitying sludge it had paralyzed my doing.

But watching the women who do this thing with such elan turned on a light bulb. While I want to be one of them, I already am one of them. Yes they smiled when they talked about the sales and the reviews and the fans. But what put that slightly mental fuzzy smile on their faces was talking about their writing, the sitting down, the creating, their characters, their worlds, the sheer joy of being able to do this. I know how that feels. Already.

And you know what the kicker is? You can have the joy without the sales, the reviews, the fans, but you cannot have the sales, the reviews, the fans without the joy. You just cannot. And doesn’t that just turn things on its head?

14 thoughts on “How Sonali Got Her Joy Back

    • Hey Kelsey!!
      Oh I know all about not-ready-land! And I have no doubt I’ll visit again often. However, it’s the learning to leave and get on with it that seems to be the trick.

      Thanks for visiting!


  1. That was awesome, Sonali! I agree whole-heartedly with your assessment and what you walked away with. I got much of the same as my take-away. I must set aside time – focused time – and WRITE! Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Well spoke my friend…well spoke…

    What I also took away, which maybe what I needed, was that at the end of the day, when all’s said and done, it is the WORK that counts, not the necklace I wore, or if I was having a good hair day, not if I blogged or facebooked or tweeted, but the quality of my WORK, and for that you must WRITE and write we shall.


  3. Thank you, Sonali, for summarizing what these four women had in common! Your blog said exactly what I needed to hear–be disciplined and write! And just as important–it will be hard. I need to do the one thing I do have control over. I will. This summer. My book will be written!!!

  4. Fantastic post, Sonali! So glad you rediscovered your joy for writing. And I love love LOVE that last paragraph. I’m going to print it out and pin it over my desk so I can see it every time I write!

  5. I hear you so well, I’m closing down my email, my FB, my WP, my Twitter and opening my WIP, turning off the world and writing. 🙂 See you later!

    • Hi Joan,
      Yeah me too! But the day you post a blog is not a good day to start. You can’t stop checking up on the comments. 🙂 OK, I’m going away again.

Leave a Reply