On the exquisite joys of being a writer

“Labels can be insidious. I enjoy meeting this boy, who moves into manhood, with his own unique personality and without prejudgment. In my opinion this was the message of the novel. Joe is different but so are you and so am I. Let us love one another because of our differences – not in spite of them.”

Fiona writes: This is from the latest review of my new novel The Most Beautiful Thing on Amazon.

One of the exquisite joys of being a writer is being read. This character, Joe, who I spent years getting to know and becoming fond of, is now meeting people all over the world. They are being moved by him, and taking away their own meanings, questions and comfort from the book.

Being read by one grateful reader, who makes a real connection with the story, can be ample reward for all the work that goes into making a novel.

But there are other joys.

The taste of words in my mouth has always made me happy. Being able to work things out (deep, complex, psychologically-tangled things) through the stories I write. The satisfaction of a pleasingly-constructed sentence. Making a welcoming space on the page for my voice. Writing my small stone about the white blossoms on that tree, and noticing (I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t written it down) how profuse they are, how generous, how they remind me of frogspawn and contain all the same promise of life.

Of course there are many things about being a writer that are the opposite of exquisite joy. If you’re a writer (or a human being) you’ll know all about boredom, failure, frustration, disappointment and pain.

That all exists. And that all needs to be dealt with, persevered through, healed, given loving attention.

As well as that, I will try to orient myself by pointing towards the exquisite joy. This is my sun. Being read. Tasting vowels and consonants. Slotting the perfect word into the sentence-hole. Using mindful writing to bring my loving attention to the world.


Two weeks today, we’re having a celebration of all beautiful things inspired by the novel. If you’re a blogger, join us. If you’re a tweeter, start tweeting using #TheMostBeautifulThing. If you’re lucky enough not to be caught by either of these insidious time-suckers, share your most beautiful thing on Facebook or just make sure you talk to your friends about it on the 24th or feel grateful.


Photo: ‘A White Spring’ by Vincent van der Pas

Comments & replies

5 thoughts on “On the exquisite joys of being a writer

  1. Rhiannon Hopkins

    This was a heartening post to read. Thank you , Fiona, so often we get caught up in the pains of writing we forget the joys, like life really. A joyus moment of being a writer that happened to me the other day – that rare and exquisite thing, a short story that arrives in your head complete and goes on the page with ease and the reseult has almost no need for editing. Bliss!

  2. Marie Wreath

    The way you describe the many varied joys of writing speaks straight to my own heart. So glad to have “met” you.

  3. Colleen Beaty

    I really needed to read this today. Especially this sentence: “One of the exquisite joys of being a writer is being read.” I think I’m going to post it in big letters on the wall of my office. Thank you!

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