The Art of Joy

Some of you may know that I’m an occasional bellydancer.

I’ve only been dancing for about 5 and half years, and I’m taking an extended break because right now, I don’t know how I feel about it any more.

I love to dance, I love sinuous beats and stompy sounds. But, I’m not loving where I am at the moment. So instead of forcing myself to go to class and memorise routines, I stopped punishing myself and said “take a break.”  The break can be permanent; it can end when your love of the form is rekindled, but don’t sit around beating yourself up over it.

And I think that I should apply that to writing.

Like with dance, I love to write, I love to read, I love the act of creation, of letting go and discovering worlds within my head. And yet with both art forms I was left feeling like everything I did was made of fail. I was not where I wanted to be, and I could feel my hope and belief slipping away

I shouldn’t be feeling that way about things I love.

So I’m giving myself permission to stop: to write or dance only when I actually want to. To find other things good in my life. To let my art not be the only thing that validates me as a human being.

And I’m really excited about this. It feels like I’m letting go of rucksack that I’ve been wearing for five years. I’m standing on the edge of the tallest cliff and I’ve thrown that damn rucksack into the river below me.

And you know what?

It feels fucking good.

So if you’re feeling like I am, just remind yourself that we’re not in a race to see who can churn out the most books, who has the fattest advance, the best-known agent, the biggest display at the front of the shop.

We’re meant to be doing these things because they bring us happiness, and our happiness is spread to others; to readers who love our characters, to the lonely kid who gets through school because he identifies with something we wrote, the girl who has our song on repeat because it says what she can’t, the person who watches us dance and knows that there is joy.


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cat_hellisen

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One thought on “The Art of Joy”

  1. Dear Cat,

    Apologies for the intrusion into your private space. I just wanted to say that yes, I feel the way you do, almost, my beliefs slipping away… Only I was never on a race, and I’m not sure if I even want to validate myself as a human being.

    I’ve been following your journal for some time. I’ve read [i]This Reflection of Me[/i] about ten times, coming back to it now and then, even though I’ve never read a single dark fantasy novel before (but I want to now). So yes, you are one of those whose song I have on repeat.

    Do have a break, but come back, because there are some who are waiting.

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