So, it’s November . . . you know what that means? That’s right! It’s National Novel Writing Month (hashtag #NaNoWriMo) that time of year when people all over the world challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in a month. I sort of scoffed at this when I first heard about it, but then a bunch of writers that I follow on Twitter announced that they were using it as motivation to get their work done. So I decided, why not? I have a fresh new outline for the novel I’ve been working on for about a year and a half, I have a great critique partner from the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and – confound it – I’m ready to get this puppy on paper! All this is to say that I’m taking a break from blogging for the month of November. Operation Turn-Shitty-First-Drafts-Into-Sligtly-Less-Shitty-Fourth-Draft has begun. Wish me luck, say a prayer, light a candle, send creative vibes (or cash, whichever), send me a message telling me not to slack off, and check out my NaNoWriMo profile: NeelySSimpson
Writing brings me joy. My hope for you this November is that you find something that brings you joy. So go ahead, take a dance class, learn a musical instrument, write a story, paint, learn a new language, make a sculpture, throw a pot, sing – whatever. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. I don’t know much about the world, but I do know that the world needs more joy. So, if you want to make the world a better place, find joy.
We tend to think that joy is not properly religious, but that it is even the opposite of religion. We tend to think that religion is sitting stiff and antiseptic and a little bored and that joy is laughter and freedom and reaching out our arms to embrace the whole wide and preposterous earth which is so beautiful that sometimes it nearly breaks our hearts. We need to be reminded that at its heart Christianity is joy and that laughter and freedom and the reaching out of arms are the essence of it . . .. We can never take credit for our moments of joy because we know that they are not man-made and that we are never really responsible for them. They come when they come. They are always sudden and quick and unrepeatable. The unspeakable joy sometimes of just being alive. The miracle sometimes of being just who we are with the blue sky and the green grass . . . Joy is all-emcompassing; there is nothing of us left over to hate with or to be afraid with, to feel guilty with or to be selfish about. Joy is where the whole being is pointed in one direction, and it is something that by its nature a man never hoards but always wants to share . . . Joy is a mystery because it can happen anywhere, anytime, even under the most unpromising circumstances, even in the midst of suffering, with tears in its eyes. Even nailed to a tree. What Jesus is saying is that men are made for joy and that anyone who is truly joyous has a right to say that he is doing God’s will on this earth. Where you have known joy, you have known him. – Frederick Buechner