Writing with Joy

Guest Post by Mercedes M. Yardley


Mercedes M. Yardley is a dark fantasist who wears red lipstick and poisonous flowers in her hair. She writes short stories, nonfiction, novellas, and novels. She is the author of Beautiful Sorrows, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, Nameless, Little Dead Red, and her latest release, Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy. Mercedes lives and works in Sin City, and you can reach her at www.mercedesyardley.com.


Authors often discuss writing with the same weariness that we’d discuss any job. Let’s be realistic and admit that writing is work. Authors need to set deadlines and achieve goals. We glue ourselves to the chair even if it’s sunny outside/there’s a good rerun of something on TV/we don’t wanna. And sometimes we really don’t wanna.

True authors persevere. If we only write when the muse strikes, then perhaps we’d only be writing a few weeks of the year. The rest of the time we show up, work, create, and try to love every difficult second of it. And quite honestly, most of us do. There’s a masochistic side to writers. We’re a hardy bunch and isolate ourselves to create worlds that don’t exist. We turn down movies and other things we want to do in order to slave over a manuscript. Then we send it to people who pick it apart and tell us everything wrong with it. We’re tough. We like challenges. We’re scrappy.

And sometimes something magical happens, and we write pieces with pure joy.

I had a book like this once. I was technically supposed to write another, but I hemmed, hawed, and eventually threw caution to the wind. I needed to find out what happened when I wrote what was burning in my brain instead of simply being responsible.

I set my other project aside and dove into this new, exciting story with nothing more than an opening line. The characters and the setting were new and intriguing to me. They took my breath away.

I wrote every spare moment, and dreamed of the book at night. After Thanksgiving dinner while everybody else conversed, I crept away and wrote more. This entire novel was written in three weeks.

My soul was on fire. I had stardust in my eyes. I wrote with an urgency powered not by self-imposed deadlines or contracts, but with a joy that was completely unmatched. I finished this book feeling transformed, and cleansed in a way. I’ve never had that experience before or since. Every second was special. When I think of this book, I think of the pleasure that went into it. It was like an open conduit to the stars. A channel of pure joy. It’s my favorite thing I’ve ever written, and this is why.

Why don’t we allow ourselves to do this more often? We can put aside the commissioned piece for something that we really want to write. Perhaps turn that commissioned piece down next time to make room for the story that is really burning inside to be written. Life is short, and joy is exceptionally precious. It’s time we invite it in.

About Bonnie Gwyn Johnson

Bonnie Gwyn handles all guest bloggers on this website. Contact her if you would like to volunteer your time to share writing advice for The Authors' Think Tank.