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