How to Find Gratitude through Writing

Last week we found Joy & Fulfillment through Writing. And it was good.

So this week let’s respond to that joy & fulfillment. Because everything about being writers is about cause-&-effect, even living the life.

Let’s be grateful.

Recognize the source.

Sometimes it’s the littlest things.

I know I’ve mentioned once or twice before a ceremony we do at our house, in which we light a candle and everyone around the dinner table says what they’re thankful for. We wanted our son to have a sense of what’s meaningful in life—in this Age of Meaningless Consumerism, when we don’t really know what we truly need or or want, but we sure know how to buy—and over the years this ceremony has served its purpose well. We’ve all become pretty adept at naming things we appreciate.

Sometimes it’s huge and touching and profound, like having each other, having our health, being safe together every night in a largely dangerous world. Sometimes it’s topical and specific, like the excitement of finishing an important project or the relief of not having to mow the lawn or the peacefulness of the cats not fighting under the table. And sometimes it’s utterly trivial, even silly, like gratitude for spoons and forks, for a particular joke, for curtains, for hair.

When my son was very young, he was often simply thankful for the candle.

Write in great, glorious, intensely specific detail about the touching and profound, the topical and specific, the utterly trivial, even the silly. Write everything you know, everything you imagine, everything that happens to you and everyone you meet or hear about or suspect exists. Write your life.

That’s your source.

Realize what it’s worth.

Train yourself to live in service to this source, and when you have written be aware of how little you bring to this work, how much of it is simply channeling your life into clean, clear words.

Ask yourself what you would do without your source. Hang in suspended animation, forever and infinitely barely surviving, without the extraordinary gift of your five senses or your ability to perceive through them? The ancient Greeks understood stasis and subjected the dead to a period of limbo before resolution to remind us of the value of living.

Your life is the most precious commodity you will ever own.

Give thanks.

So give it its due. Stop right this instant and breathe. Look around you.

Where are you? What does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it feel like? How does it smell? Stick out your tongue—how does it taste? Writing puts all of that into specific words so that it fixes in your memory forever. Working with those words, struggling to find just the right ones in just the right order, learning the many brilliant techniques of written language to re-create the experience of this moment out of all other moments in life, yours or anyone else’s: that is an act of thanks.

You are here. You are you. You are alive.

Writing is your lens through which to refract your gratitude, so that it will never leave you.

6 thoughts on “How to Find Gratitude through Writing

  1. shah wharton says:

    Excellent advice – I learn to be more and more thankful as I grow older. And as I grow happier. I see joy where I once saw … well, quite the opposite. X

  2. ‘For hair’. Your posts are sparkling refreshment as always, Victoria. Thankful you left this stockpile of inspiration

  3. Phil South says:

    Great post Victoria!

    Giving thanks for what you have, your resources as a writer, is a great place to start building the right mindset. So often writers concetrate on what they don’t have (adoring fans, a first draft, the Man Booker prize) rather than what they do have (authenticity, a voice, things to say, a wicked plot containing a Mexican wrestler, an ostrich and tennis raquet). I think I know which mindset will get me closer to the book I want to write.

    Thanks for some pleasing and festive thoughts!

  4. I’m grateful to find other people online with a sense of gratitude. It keeps me in the right frame of mind. Thanks, Victoria, for being one of those people.

  5. Sometimes when I’m feeling crappy or out of sorts, I just start naming things I’m grateful for. Always does the trick. Thanks for the post.

  6. Lisa says:

    Love that part about writing your life. It comes out eventually whether we wanted it to or not right?
    Great post.

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