Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Finding The Joy

My guest is award winning Stephanie Rowe. She sold her first book in 2002 and since, has published eleven books, including Immortally Sexy series, which is where I first came to love her writing. I loved her sense of humor, her intriguing storylines, and her characters—not a wimpy woman among them. And then there were the sexy men, oh-la-la. I liked the way she could put me in the story so I felt the thrill of falling in love.

Many of us who write want a career as an author. It’s our dream. We work long and hard to develop that dream. We learn to juggle being a wife, mother, sometimes a job outside the home, and time for writing. We want the joy of saying, “I’m a writer.”

Like any dream or career, it’s an upward climb and it’s hard. We rarely think about what happens after those books are sold, the deadlines, the pressure and
still juggling life. We tend to look at authors with several books published as having it made.

Stephanie’s article struck a chord with me. I remember feeling this way. Oh, not as an author, but as a successful career woman. The day I looked at my life and thought I have what I wanted so what happened to my joy and satisfaction?

It's not a nice place to find yourself as Stephanie explains.

Writing is hard.
The business of writing can be hard.
Life can be hard.

Sometimes it feels like everything is coming at you so hard and so fast that you can't breathe, you can't think, and you can't remember what it was like to laugh. Your heart feels heavy, the book you have to write feels like a one-eyed banana slug stalking you day and night, chanting "Write me. Write me. Write me." You lie in bed at night, your mind is racing with all you have to do and how you need to do it. The edits, the new proposal, your daughter's lunch, the cocktail party you're hosting, the receipts you owe the accountant, the disaster-zone in the living room. One morning, you're halfway through your precious small window to work while your daughter is in preschool, and your keyboard finally goes belly up. You rush to Staples, frustrated by the traffic and the minutes ticking away with you away from the computer. You're standing in line, tapping your foot, and you see an old friend. One you used to hang out with before you started this writing thing, back when you had free time. She smiles and hugs you and says, "I have been thinking about you all week! I've had the worst week ever at work, and all I can think of is you, following your dream. You are so lucky. I wish I was you."

You stare at her blankly, then the list of complaints rises to the tip of your tongue, and then her words register. You are so lucky. I wish I was you.

And then you realize a truth. A glaring, ugly truth. A truth that doesn't have any glitter on it. Not anymore. The truth is that somewhere along the line of living your dream, you lost the joy.

Not the joy that is your practiced line of, "I'm a writer. Yes, I love it. It's my dream job." You can still pull that off with aplomb, and you might even believe it.

I'm talking about the joy that's deep in your heart. The joy that makes you skip down the stairs. That joy that makes you burst out laughing when your three year old spills orange juice in your bed, instead of getting angry and thinking about how you don't have time to put clean sheets on the bed. The joy that makes a huge, genuine smile break out on your face when you sit down at your computer to work, instead of the dread in your chest wondering how you're going to make that page quota. The joy that makes you see only the beautiful flowers beside the road, instead of the traffic you're sitting in.

There's a difference between the superficial joy that we can put on so well, and the true joy that resonates through every core of your body, the one that makes your soul so light that it feels like its floating.

And I know, because I lost that joy. Honestly, I'm not sure I ever had it, not really and truly. When I started writing, I did it because I had to do it. I wanted to be a writer, to have a career, to write, to improve. It was a mission for me. I took every failure so hard, and barely noticed each success. Each revision letter or rejection was a sock to the gut, a statement that I wasn't good enough and had to work harder. I did it, I lived it, and I told everyone I loved it, including myself. But it got hard. Really, really hard. I won't go into the details, but my writing career and my personal life took a couple brutal, earth-shattering hits right at the exact same time. Things hit hard, and in my struggle to survive, I plunged myself into a hole I didn't even notice.

Then, one morning as I was lying in bed, dreading getting up and heading to the computer, the truth dawned. I realized I'd somehow, I'd taken my joy, my dream, and I'd let the down and dirty details of life derail me from the pure, simple, joy. And so I began a year-long process of finding that joy in my writing. Of LOVING what I do. Of finding a peace and a happiness within myself that was so deep that it resonated throughout my life, not just with my writing. I had to overhaul my whole mindset, and I was a whole lot further away from the joy that I thought I was. Not that joy that makes you smile. I'm talking about the joy and the love that you can literally feel in your chest, that makes a laugh gurgle up at the back of your throat just because. The true joy. I wanted it back, and I knew I would never become the writer (or mother, or person) I wanted to be until I learned how to feel that joy in my writing.

It's been a long road, but I'm proud to say that I'm finally there. Just last month, I thought to myself, "I'm a writer," and that one phrase made this intense feeling of satisfaction and truth ripple through me so intensely I could literally feel it. And that moment, that feeling that I hold in my heart every day, is so worth everything I've gone through to get here. But you know what? Nothing in my life that was so bad has actually changed...yet. But I've changed. I'm happy. I love my life. And that is all the difference in the world. The rest will come, and while I'm waiting for it, I'm dancing. And it's the greatest feeling in the world!

We all deserve to feel that kind of joy, but how many of us actually have it? How many of us are racing through life, putting our fires, not taking time to sit down and allow the greatness of the things in our lives to touch our hearts? It might be your writing, or your partner, or your daughter... whatever it is. Whatever you say you love, or you want to love, have you really taken the time to let it into your heart? I thought I had, and now I know the difference.


Nationally bestselling author Stephanie Rowe is a four time RITA finalist. Known for her high octane paranormal romances, her new romantic suspense, ICE, is her first foray into romantic suspense. Her chilling and sexy Alaska series hits the shelves this month, and has received high accolades from such publications as Publishers Weekly. For more info, see

  • Ice blurb: The last thing Kaylie Fletcher wants is a return to Alaska, the place of too many traumatic memories. But when her family goes missing in a climbing accident, she has no choice but to head back to the land where the nights are long, the men are untamed, and passions run hot. Soon after arriving, Kaylie finds herself in a cat and mouse game for her life, and the only thing standing in the way of certain death is a sexy, rugged bush pilot who holds her life in his hands. If she's going to stay alive and find her family, Kaylie has no choice but to rely on Cort McClaine, a dangerous and sensual male who is everything Kaylie doesn't want... and everything she craves... But will Cort destroy her even as he is trying to keep her alive?

Stephanie is giving away a copy of Ice to a lucky commenter today


~Sia McKye~ said...

Stephanie, it's a pleasure to welcome you to Over Coffee. Pull up a chair and help yourself to coffee, tea, and homemade goodies.

You know the first book of yours I read was, Must Love Dragons. I loved the title and I loved your characters. I had to go search for other titles of yours. I'm really looking forward to read ICE.

Stephanie Rowe said...

Hi Sia

Thanks for having me. It's great to be here. I love your blog, and I'm honored you asked me to be a part of it!

Elaine Knighton said...

Stephanie, it was SO good to see you in DC. Thank you for sharing such a powerful, inspiring message. I think a lot of us have been living parallel lives. Bless you for pulling yourself back through and into joy again. Over the past few years I too have shifted away from fear and feeling overwhelmed regarding my writing back to hey, I really DO have more stories to tell, only this time I will write bigger and bolder, inspired largely by courageous women like you and my other writer friends, as well as readers who keep the faith. Thank you so much, and thank you Sia for the opportunity to share.


Nice post! It is hard to find time to stop and water the flowers, much less smell them.

ColleenFL said...

I loved the Immortally Sexy series! I'm looking forward to reading ICE as I really enjoy romantic suspense. Please keep writing vampire books, too! BTW, great article today.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Oh Darn, Kelly, I was suppose to water the flowers too?

Colleen, the first book of Stephanie's I read was, Must love Dragons. The title cracked me up and loved the story. Had to go look for her other titles.

Stephanie said...

Elaine, you are such an inspiration for me, the journey you have traveled. It was wonderful to see you in DC as well. Thanks for coming by!

And Kelly, yes it's hard to find time to smell the flowers! Life is so busy! But I now try!

Colleen, thanks for your nice words on my Immortally Sexy series. I love writing those and hope to be able to write some more of those soon.

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi Stephanie,

I appreciate your honesty. I recently started my writing endeavor and I do have that JOY! Reading your post reminded me that I can't take the people in my life for granted. I must set aside time EVERYDAY to spend time with them and share in the JOY of their lives as well.

Thank you for the post!
Barb writing as Elle J Rossi

Judi Fennell said...

*waves hi to Stephanie!

Can't wait to read this, Stephanie! You know how much I loved your paranormals. All the best - and enjoy the ride! :)

Minnette Meador said...

Stephanie - I can't even begin to tell you how much this article touched me. I cried. That act in itself has been a long time coming, believe me. We nurturers, the strong ones, have to hold so tightly against aversity when we chase our dreams, protect our famillies, or fight against the world, that we forget to look for joy... or have a hard time finding the inspiration to. Thank you for your insight. During a very rough year, I've needed this new perspective. I'll share this post with some friends I know it will benefit. I know how hard this was to write. Minnette :o)

Elizabeth Parker said...

Your post really struck a cord with me! I realize that I have a lot of work to do to tap into the joy that seems to be eluding me right now. I am glad you were able to journey back and find what you needed!

LuAnn said...

As a freelance writer, I'm often inundated by schedules and deadlines and I will think, why am I doing this? But, you know, if I consider doing anything different, I nearly have a panic attack. It's definitely in my blood for good!

Stephanie Rowe said...

Waves to Judi! Thanks for coming! Good to see you! And Minnette, your post made tears come to my own eyes. I'm so sorry for the year you have had, and I hope so much you can find your way back to the sunshine. Truly. Good to hear from you Elizabeth, and thanks for sharing. I think that there are so many of us in the same place, and sometimes we don't realize that we're not along. And that's great, Luann, to realize that writing is in your blood. It's in mine, too, and I'm so happy that it is!

Paula said...

Congrats on finding your joy. :D

Delilah Marvelle said...

Your post is spot on. It's up to us to find the joy, not just in our writing, but in our lives. I'm so thrilled to hear that joy is back in your life because you are a fanastic writer and have so much to share with the world. Big hugs to you and I can't wait to read your latest!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Stephanie, it's a hard road back to joy. Lot of introspection and work to see where you derailed. But I like your comments about how we're "racing through life, putting our fires, not taking time to sit down and allow the greatness of the things in our lives to touch our hearts?"

And that's the secret. Joy, happiness, satisfaction are all emotions that must come from the heart. They don't come from the things we have. People and things can only enhance those emotions if they're first in our hearts. Their actions might dim our joy but they can't take it away. But like you said, "have you really taken the time to let it into your heart? I thought I had, and now I know the difference."

Me too. I loved your article, my dear!

Sheila Deeth said...

Interesting article. I'd never really thought about losing the joy, but I look around and can see it threatening to slip. Needs more nurturing and your story reminds me to take care and find joy. Thank you.

Helen Ginger said...

Really interesting article and you talked about a subject few authors talk about. Yet it's a subject I think a lot of writers deal with - finding or re-finding the joy in writing. Perhaps it's even more true for writers today when more and more of the book promotion is being passed onto their shoulders.

I really appreciate that you addressed this subject.

Straight From Hel

Anonymous said...

It is good to be reminded of how we are perceived, isn't it. Be it writer, doctor's wife, mother of good kids or any other positive spin the world want's to tag us with. Few look beyond the label to see who we really are, even ourselves.
With all the woes of the real world pressing on us all, it is timely that you remind us of the joys we find in our chosen craft - the soul satisfying moments when someone reads the our words and finds in them the escape into fantasy that we have lovingly woven.
I'm going to take this as my cue to leave my broken air-conditioner behind and escape to the closest book store. I think I need some "ICE".

Thank you for sharing your joy with us today!


Barbara Rae Robinson said...

Ah, Stephanie. It's so good to know you're happy again. Good luck!


Jill Lynn said...

Thanks for sharing such heart-felt truths. While we all strive for success, it really is joy we should strive for. Success gives us confidence about the way others see us. Joy gives us confidence within.

Stephanie Rowe said...

Hi All! Sorry for going MIA today, but my comptuer crashed! Anyway, thank you all so much for your comments and support. Jill, I loved what you wrote, and you are so right. Barb! I miss you! Thank you so much for your note. And Laurel, you make such a good point about how we are perceived. That is so good to remember. Thanks for your comments, Helen. I appreciate your feedback. Sometimes it feels risky to write a post like this, but when I see it resonate with people, then I know it was right to do. And Sheila, thanks for sharing. We are all in this together!

And in a wonderful note, I wanted to share that two incredible things happened tonight in the two areas of my life that were so tough for so long, the ones where I said that nothing had changed... yet. Tonight, the "yet" happened. In both areas. And the joy I feel is so exponentially more b/c I had already found my peace before anything external had happened to justify it.

What a day.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Yay, Stephanie. Amazing how many good things happen when we learn to focus on other things. Oh, and being open to extras...

Jessa Slade said...

Stephanie, you know you are my hero! Thanks for sharing (yet again) your steps along the path. I know I've taken your words to heart.

And speaking of your words... ICE is awesome! What a thrill ride. And it resonates perfectly with your post today: How do we come to life?

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Stephanie, what a journey you've been on and I expect will continue to be on. I'm so happy you are coming into your own and realizing that finding your own peace and joy is what opens you to the rest of life, and to actually letting in the joy taht is waiting to embrace you.

As for the "yet" happening in both areas, that is a huge door opening and inviting you in to the light again. Bask in the sunshine and hold it in your heart as you start this next leg of your journey.

ICE is on order for me. Can't wait to read it.

Michele Lang said...

What a beautiful and honest post. Thank you for writing it...I truly believe that you will metabolize every crummy thing that has happened, and you will use this material to create ever more compelling, fantastic stories filled with soul.

You rock! Can't wait to read ICE. :)