Friday, February 12, 2016

The Joy of Writing

In honor of Valentine's Day, the TeachingAuthors team has been blogging about love--not romantic love, but the love that fuels our writing. Since today is Poetry Friday, I considered composing a personal "Ode to Writing." But I'm short on time, so I'll be sharing an excerpt from Wisława Szymborska's "The Joy of Writing" instead. You'll find a link to this week's Poetry Friday round-up at the end of this post, along with some information about updates to our website. If you have a child or student who likes to write poetry, you'll be especially interested in a new link I've added.

I often hear my students complain, "Writing is hard!" No doubt, parts of it can be. And, being human, we tend to focus on the negative. However, research shows that being happy in our work can help us to be more productive.

If you've been following this blog, you know I'm in the midst of a "30-Day Boost Your Writing Productivity Challenge," so this topic fits right into my efforts to increase my personal productivity. (For my 10-day progress report, see this blog post.)

So what part of writing do I love most? It's immersing myself in a fictional world. As Jane Yolen says in "Take Joy: A Writer's Guide to Loving the Craft" (Writer's Digest Books) :
"Writing takes us into another, brighter, deeper, more engaging world than the world we actually live in."
Reading often does the same thing, but when I write, the world is my creation. For me, that act of creation is often a spiritual process. As Yolen says a little later in Take Joy:
"The writer in the midst of writing, like the penitent in the midst of prayer--finds the self falling away. Or getting out of the way. Only when we slip out of our writer bodies do we truly don the skin of story."
I love slipping into the "skin of story." I can easily spend hours there. In fact, I get so immersed in the process that I have to set a timer to remind myself to stop for lunch, appointments, etc. The fictional world becomes that real to me. And while I'm living in it, my heart is filled with joy.

While working on this blog post, I suddenly remembered the wonderful poem "The Joy of Writing" by Nobel Laureate and Polish poet Wisława Szymborska. I was tempted to reproduce the entire poem here--it's not that long. However, I worry that might be copyright infringement. So I've copied only the opening stanza below. You can find the rest of the poem, and an interesting commentary on it, at Storyacious magazine.

          excerpt from The Joy of Writing

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence – this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word “woods.” . . .

by Wislawa Szymborska, Translated by S Barańczak  & C. Cavanagh
© Wislawa Szymborska, S. Barańczak & C. Cavanagh

As promised, here's the link to today's Poetry Friday round-up at Kimberley Moran's blog, Written Reflections.

If you're reading this post on our website, you may have noticed that I've revised the sidebar to include the cover of a brand new TeachingAuthors picture book to be released soon, as well as a link for readers to "like" our page on Facebook.

I've also added links to some new opportunities on our Young Writers page. If you know any writers under the age of sixteen who write poetry, you may want to consider submitting their work for inclusion in the Rattle Young Poets Anthology. Poems must be submitted by a parent/legal guardian or teacher. Submission deadline: June 15, 2016.

Remember to "Take Joy" in your writing!


Myra Garces Bacsal said...

Wisława Szymborska is one of my favourite poets of all time. Very powerful and lyrical voice.

Carmela Martino said...

I love her work, too, Myra. Thanks for stopping by.

Linda B said...

And when I read those words you've shared, from other poets and Wisława Szymborska, I am inspired all over again, Carmela. So lovely, and ah, to write even one line like that. Thanks for sharing. Happy Valentine's Day!

Carmela Martino said...

So glad to have provided some inspiration, Linda. Thanks for stopping by. And Happy Valentine's Day to you, too.

Tabatha said...

Good point about keeping it positive, Carmela! Love the poem.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Tabatha. Glad you like the poem.

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thanks for reminding us, Carmela: there is Joy in writing!

April Halprin Wayland said...

I love that "being happy in our work can make us more productive" -- this seems so obvious and yet I hadn't personalized it. How I feel about my novel has clearly held me back. But not THIS year!

Carmela Martino said...

April, did you follow the link to the article? Lots of interesting research going on about how happiness affects our productivity.
Glad to know things are changing for you this year. Take joy in that novel!