That sense of rightness was reinforced after a serious car accident almost two years ago that left my husband initially totally paralyzed. I suffered a broken arm, which precluded typing for over a month. But, caught up in caring for him during his slow recovery, with seven months in various hospitals and the adjustment after returning home (praise God, he is now walking, eating and speaking,) I did not write for almost a year.
Compounding all the other weirdness of a life turned upside down, the absence of writing made me feel like there wasn't any "me" left after the accident.
It's still difficult to carve out writing time, with my husband in various therapy sessions four or five days a week, all the additional tasks that need to be done when you are the sole functioning adult in a household and with his aging father to supervise as well. But nothing else gives the sense of peace and satisfaction of getting words on the page.
It's still hard work, which makes it easy to find good reasons to delay--the "avoidance" part of the equation. Once in front of the keyboard, re-reading the previous session's work, trying to pick up the thread of the story again, is like starting an old, cranky engine that clanks and smokes and creaks as it slowly gets moving. But then...after a while, it goes faster and then faster, the ideas flowing out my fingertips. Sometimes, the work doesn't seem good, the ideas not expressed clearly enough, the word choice wrong. But sometimes...magic happens.
That's when the JOY erupts, that indescribable feeling I'm trying to describe, compounded of excitement, energy, satisfaction, and a little amazement. The characters nattering in my head have come to life on the page, telling a story that moves and inspires me and, I hope, will move and inspire readers.
Because the most perfect part of that joy occurs when readers respond. I don't get a lot of reader letters, but some of the few I've received have made all the work and frustration worth it. The lady in hiding from her abuser husband who wrote to say my heroine, also an abused wife in hiding, (MY LADY'S TRUST) had given her hope. The lady with fibromyalgia, in chronic pain, who said my stories take her away to another world and lift her spirits. (My two latest, THE RAKE TO RUIN HER and THE RAKE TO REDEEM HER.)
Those occasional emails from readers that tell me how much they've enjoyed a book put a smile on my face when I sit down to start up, once again, that old creaky engine. And remind me of more than why I have to write, but why I do it: JOY.
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Julia Justiss grew up breathing the scent of sea air near the colonial town of Annapolis, Maryland, a fact responsible for two of her life-long passions: sailors and history!
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