With my boys at their dad’s house last weekend, I spent Sunday night watching the Golden Globes alone, while also doing final edits and revisions on my Harlequin manuscript, and I have to tell you, it was one of my favorite nights in a long time.
The edits and revisions were hard—harder than I expected them to be—but the Golden Globes were wonderful, not just because I love film and award shows, but because I learned something important. I realized that it’s not enough to be recognized for one’s work. There must also be joy in it. Success means nothing if there is no pleasure in the process, much less pride and pleasure in the completion.
People ask me what drives me, and I say the creative impulse. (As well as a fair amount of neurosis.) But there’s something else that helps me weather the difficulties and ups and downs, and that’s the joy I feel in creating something new. It’s the joy I feel in collaborating with others—agents, editors, writers. It’s the joy I feel in building a community with fellow readers and writers. It’s the joy of being.
We have to make sure we don’t just get by.
We have to make sure we don’t subsist.
And we have to make sure we open our minds, our hearts, and lives to joy.
Unfettered joy. Which would also include exuberance, laughter, hope, and love.
We have to believe in our hearts that we deserve this joy, and we can have it, and we can share it.
Once I thought I had to be number one at things. Had to be a number one on a chart or list. Had to be a number one so I knew I was valuable. But then something happened. No, I didn’t become number one. I didn’t become a leader of anything. But I became hugely, immensely happy, and felt hugely, immensely blessed.
And this sense of peace came from shifting from external rewards to internal. Counting my blessings. Bleeping out negative self-talk. Making daily choices that made me feel good instead of bad. Surrounding myself with positive people and positive experiences. Accepting that I didn’t have to be perfect, and then coming to terms with failure. I will fail. People fail. Failure is part of life, as well as part of success. Now my life is rich and I’m calmer and so much happier.
Numbers and rankings, advances, reviews and other status symbols pale compared to the riches of my life—good friends, wonderful family, a complex inner world and an adventurous life. I’ll leave the numbers and rankings to the accountants and marketing gurus. Numbers and rankings—including the weight on a scale or the size of our paycheck—do not signify happiness, and they certainly don’t capture joy.
Joy is simple. Joy isn’t complicated. And best of all, joy is free.