Friday, April 24, 2009


“The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure.”

That quote from the dancer, Mikhail Barshnikov, comes as close as anything I can think of to what writing means to me. It captures the exhilaration of creating a world out of words and sharing that world with others. I completely identify with the statement, but there are times when the exhilaration is hard to find, when it’s almost suffocated by doubt and frustration.

Does that mean that my writing isn’t really art? That’s not for me to say (or even know). I can only do my best and hope. What I hope most is that it gives pleasure.

Do I have pleasure in writing? Depends on when you ask me. When the words flow easily–definitely. When I’m struggling to find the right words–not so much. How about when I’m stumped for a way to extricate my characters from the dilemma I’ve created for them? The answer to that is mixed. Part of my brain says, “Give it up. Turn off the computer. Make a cup of tea and have a brownie.” Another part says, “Keep going. Your muse will speak up if you give her time.” I wish I could say the latter part always wins. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. More often than I like to admit, the call of tea and brownie is louder than my muse. When that happens, sometimes I go back refreshed and everything falls into place. Other times, problems seem to have multiplied in my absence. In the end, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that I do go back, because if I do, I know eventually I’ll work it out. And that knowledge is pleasure.

Today is the release date of By Whose Hand, my newest Avalon mystery. Today, it goes on the shelves of bookstores and libraries beside the books of all the other writers, past and present, whom I admire so much–an almost dizzying thought. I write mysteries and my last name begins with C. That means I’m rubbing shoulders (should I say covers?) with Agatha Christie. Pure pleasure.

What about you? What do you find pleasurable in writing? Or reading? Or whatever you do that both exhilarates and frustrates you?


Carol Hutchens said...

Congratulations on your new release, Sandy! Hope you have a wonderful day. Love the quote.


Sandie Bricker said...

I'm an avoider. For instance, I am reading your blog this morning instead of struggle (the way I did yesterday) with meeting a contractual deadline. I don't particularly like my characters these days. They don't speak to me like the last ones did. But I'm encouraged to read that you have these days too, that in fact most writers have them. And the key, it would appear, is to press on despite what we FEEL. The tea and brownie? A balm to the wound before we do that. :-)

Sharen said...

Huge congratulations, Sandy, on your newest release - one more piece of evidence that the ability to keep on going is the most important element in the creative puzzle.

Sandy Cody said...

Thanks, Carol. I hope we ALL do well!

And, Sandie, I'm an avoider too and have had to learn the hard way to press on. As for liking my characters, sometimes I feel that way; other times, they're the only ones who understand me.
Is that sad? Or what?

Thanks for stopping by.

Debby Mayne said...

I'm with you on this. I enjoy writing when the scenes flow smoothly, but when there's a glitch, well...ugh. Brownies or chips & salsa sound mighty good.

Sandy Cody said...

Thank you, Sharen. Well said, the creative process is indeed a puzzle.

Chips and salsa, huh. I'll try that next time I'm stuck. Maybe it will add a litle zest to my writing.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Sandy! I can't wait to see your latest nestled close to the Agathas on a bookstore shelf! As one of your readers, I can attest to the fact that you definitely give pleasure to your readers!

Sandy Cody said...

Thanks for the good words. They're most appreciated. (We all know what insecure souls we writers are.)

Marielena said...

Better late in the day than never, but thanks for your good words on "persistence" in writing, whether that process is pleasure or pain. I echo the comments of your fellow bloggers, that your books indeed give pleasure. Congrats on your latest release!

Elisabeth Rose said...

Yep, it's very easy to wander off and do something else--even vacuum or clean the bath! But I suppose the difference is that as published writers we know we have to finish the book, we can't just put it aside and start writing on that new and exciting idea for the next story.

We also know by experience that we can barge through the tough to write bits. The strange thing is when I go back over the completed manuscript I can't tell which passages they were.

Sandy Cody said...

Good point, Lis. Sometimes the part I think brilliant when I writing it turns out to be pure schlock.

And thank you, Marielena.

Christine Bush said...

Congrats on your new book. That is wonderful. As for wandering and muses and commitment..for me writing is a bit of a magical process, and on any certain story, the characters speak when they're ready. So I often work on different things at one time.. a current book, a short story, a play, an article, etc to keep me "in the chair". If that sounds a little confusing, it's because it sometimes is. But somehow it all gets done! Master of multi-tasking?