Writing Joy by Christine Duncan

It’s been a crazy, busy, emotional week. It was the kind of week where there were actually a couple of nights where we didn’t even have time to sleep much, but we didn’t even notice or complain much because we were grateful for the sleep we got because there was so much going on.

And yet, the writer in me just wanted to sit down for a minute and figure out how to write about it. Oh, not what was going on so much as how as a writer to convey joy, in the middle of fatigue,and loud chaotic periods sprinkled with the need to cram in just one more thing because things needed to be done. How do you write that?

Writing description feels easy. I try to keep it short and sprinkle it in, but really try to see it from the character’s eyes. Anger is not hard to convey either. I just write short, staccato, sentences and let the thing fly. Thoughtful scenes where the character suddenly understands something are satisfying to write.

Bur ironically writing about a deeply held happiness is harder. It’s not what fiction is about. By definition, fiction is about a journey, a problem, a need that must be filled. Fiction is about taking that journey, finding a a way to fix that problem.

But how do you write joy and the blur of a family with the mundane mixed in with it without sounding either sugary sweet or really naive? How do you convey awe and deeply felt gratitude without sounding gullible and maybe a little simple? Pollyanna was famous for a reason.

And how weird is it to pause in the middle of just such a time in life, and try to figure out how to write it?


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