Gratitude for the Writer's Soul

It's that time of year again. The time when your thoughts shift to apple pie, playing in the leaves and trick-or-treaters. For those of us who celebrate Thanksgiving (October for me and my fellow Canadians, November for those in the United States), it's also a time when we start thinking about what we're grateful for. Like pie.

I jest, I jest ... mostly!

I've been thinking a lot lately about how very blessed I am. While there are definitely things I'd like to change about my life (and am working on doing just that), there are so many things I'm thankful for, and it got me thinking about all the things we have to be grateful for as writers.

Our Readers

The individuals who take precious time out of their day to read our short stories, our blog posts, our books, whether they quietly read and absorb and then set them aside, or take up the role of our champion, trumpeting the merits of our stories from the rooftops. Our readers are one of our greatest inspirations, and the more we show our appreciation, by acknowledging their awesomeness and continuing to create quality work, the better.

Those Who Support Us

Whether you've bonded over Twitter or been friends for life, the people who support us in our writing endeavours are some of our greatest cheerleaders. They see us through the times when we think we can't possibly write another word and panic about how the book we're writing is exactly like that one that just got published. They share in our joy when we finish a rough draft and hear back from our dream agent. They are incredibly powerful and so instrumental to our success: no writer is an island.

Our Collaborators

Maybe it's the guest posts we wrote for each other's blogs, or a free webinar we cohosted, or a novel we co-wrote. Whatever it is, we've worked together to create something and bring it to fruition, something we couldn't have done without the other. Sharing in that experience of creation is mindblowingly cool, and we get to share all the ups and downs (and the really really big downs and the really really REALLY big ups!) with someone fantastic.

Writers Who Inspire Us

Nikki Tate, for her wonderful stories about a horse-crazy girl named Jessa, and for her kindness towards a young writer with oodles of questions. Maggie Stiefvater, for her ability to depict everyday moments that pack a punch and transport you right into the story (I can still picture Sam and Grace, sitting upstairs in the bookstore, reading Rilke together). J.K. Rowling, for her skill at storytelling, weaving it in and around us, a story that still holds a special place in my heart a decade later. These are just three in a long list of writers who inspire me every time I come to the page.

ETA, December 2019: Since writing this post in 2015, I've learned a fair bit about J.K. Rowling's problematic behaviour regarding marginalized communities, some of which goes back to representations in the Harry Potter stories themselves. While I don't want to retroactively erase what I was grateful for at the time, and the world of Harry Potter and its fandom is still incredibly important to me, I'd like to be clear that I'm no longer such a fan of J.K. Rowling herself.

The Books We Read

Tied closely to the last point, there are books which we pick up and sink into whenever we need to escape, or a reminder of what good writing really is, or what it feels like for characters to leap off the page. For some it's the classics, for others it's something contemporary. Whether you read on a Kindle or from a bound paper book, I think we can agree the world would be a gloomy, dull place without stories that help us soar, make us think, give us peace.

Little Moments

Life isn't made entirely of grand events, and thank goodness for that - how exhausting it would be! While there's a place for The Big Stuff, the little moments are the ones that truly enrich our lives, and yet these moments so easily pass us by if we're not paying attention. Writing encourages us to catch their eye, extend a hand, invite them to stay a while, as we write them, or moments like them, into our stories, memorializing them for a friend or a reader or a whole generation, or maybe solely for ourselves.

Our Writing

Last on this list, but certainly not least, is what it all comes back to - our writing. Those times when we look at the clock and realize hours have gone by without our noticing, because we were so lost in our story, or that first time you hear back from a beta reader that, "YES, you've got it! I love what you did with this!" or that moment when you sit back in your chair and realize, "I'm taking the time to do something I love, it thrills me to pieces, and I get to do this every day, if I want!" ... those are the times that make this worthwhile. Those are the times that make me so very grateful to be a writer.

Honestly, I think we take these things for granted much of the time. We put in the hours, strive to meet our daily word goal, chat with other writers about the dire straits we're putting our characters through, but we don't often take a moment to appreciate what it is that we do or the components that make our lives as writers so wonderful. Now I've done it once, I love the idea of making a habit of it! The world is so fast-paced nowadays, finding these pockets of peace is more important to our well-being than ever, especially because we spend so much time inside our minds as writers.

How about you? What are you grateful for in your writing life? What makes your heart sing?

Psst ... check out my more personal addition to this gratitude list in this video!