I realize now that I should have posted this once and titled it “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Writing.” It would have been my clever play on the novel The Agony and the Ecstasy, by Irving Stone (and the film, directed by Carol Reed).

Yesterday I wrote about how my guts get all twisted up when I work on articles. Today it’s all about the love. What makes me so pleased when I see my byline? The first thing is that what I wrote was actually publishable; that it wasn’t gibberish. And a great ego-booster is to get an email from someone who says the article was interesting and I’m a good writer.

The best part is that I learned something after I’ve struggled to do the research, the interview, and make it all come across as somewhat intelligent. For instance in a piece about residential property assessment I wrote for Dan’s Papers, I had no clue of how the process worked because I don’t own any real estate. Now I know how it all works, and thanks to that article, I’m more convinced not to own a single blade of grass (at least not in Suffolk County).

What excites me, though, is writing fiction. Although it’s tough to face a blank screen or sheet of paper, once you know the gist of what you want to write that experience can be exhilarating. You create scenes and characters that you know will resonate with readers, and when you get feedback telling you that a certain part  of the story was poignant or the writing was delicious your heart swells with pride.

I admit that Julius has taken me far too long to write, and I think, in part, it’s because I’m having too much fun discovering things that can make the story better. That’s the ecstasy of writing. Reshaping the story to make it a great read. Even though I’m so close to it, and I can easily get sick of reading and revising it over and over again there are passages in the novel that are quite good, and are worth a second read.

Okay, I’m biased. Julius is my baby, but I’ve worked hard on it, and I’m proud of the effort. Its those  moments or working on an article with value that writing is the best thing in the whole world. And even though I’ll never have Pulitzer or have a huge following like Jodi Picoult, it doesn’t matter because I love what I do even with all the gut-wrenching agony that comes with it.

On that note, it’s time for breakfast and the start of a new writing day.


  • Great article! I felt the same way when I freelanced for some places. The research could be agonizing but then that byline made it all worthwhile. And I’m with you on learning new things. With all my health writing, I’ve given my parents the same diagnosis on their illnesses as their doctors have! LOL You’ll finish Julius too and who knows the kind of following you’ll have?