The Joy of Writing


I’d almost forgotten.

During the last few of months, I wrote all the material for a new website, worked with the site designers, set up a new blog and dealt with all the resulting snags, helped create a book trailer, traveled for signings, visited bookstores for stock signings, did the revisions from h-e-double toothpicks, and been interviewed umpteen thousand times. I certainly don’t regret a moment of it, but until yesterday, I’d nearly forgotten why I went into this business to being with: I love writing.

Yesterday morning, I went back to the Opium Den. My local O.D. (Starbucks) was just remodeled and they have new cushy leather chairs, so I plunked myself down and opened the folder containing the notes for my next, as yet untitled, novel, and I began to create.

Oh. My. God. It was so wonderful. It felt like a homecoming, only better. Brand new characters to get to know. A complex (and I do mean complex!) story to puzzle out. I felt a joy I haven’t experienced in months. Maybe not since I started working on Before the Storm. Although I certainly loved writing After the Storm, I already knew those people and their story inside out and backwards. Now, I get to work on something completely fresh and new, and I’m very, very happy about it!

As I wrote the above, the Fed-Ex guy rang my doorbell, bringing me the line edits for After the Storm (wow, my editor works fast!) So my joy was short-lived, since I need to go through A the S one more time. At least I had that brief reminder of why I’m a writer, and that will keep me going until I can open that yummy folder once again.


  1. Julie on July 9, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    That’s funny … Starbuck’s used to be cushy, comfy, then they remodeled to be more businesslike and sterile, to get people in and out. Now they’re getting back to what people really go to coffee places for–being in a place where they can relax or work, or do both at the same time. 🙂
    Good luck with the edits!

  2. brenda on July 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I bet you dread seeing the Fed Ex man…I know as soon as I get something done for a class and think I can relax, something else pops up…I have read that many Starbucks are closing, and I guess that is another sign of the economy…tightening of belts-that is just another good reason for your book to come out in trade paperback… Any hints about the new book? ALREADY???

  3. Gina on July 9, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Diane – that photo is hilarious! Where ever did you find that? LOL
    I love when you tease us about a new book on the horizon!
    Keep writing Diane!! I always look forward to your wonderful books. Can’t get enough, it seems.

  4. Denise on July 9, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    I suppose I am in a minority of people who aren’t Starbucks fan; their coffee is too burnt and acidic for me.
    Approaching the writing of a new book must be as relaxing and fun as a vacation!

  5. Diane Chamberlain on July 10, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Yes, it’s true that 600 Starbucks are closing. Truly a sign of the economy. Even I am stopping to think before I hand over my credit card, and I know I’m not alone. It’s hard to cut back on books, though. I DO think that’s what makes the trade paperbacks so appealing. Denise, you’re right about the burnt coffee. It’s an acquired taste.
    Brenda, I can’t talk about the new book yet. I have no contract on it, and I’ve learned from years of miserable experience, that an idea I love may not appeal to an editor, so until I know it’s going to eventually make it into print, my lips are sealed. Sort of.
    Gina, I find some great photos at I love this little dog. Not as much as I loved Christian the Lion, of course, but she’s still pretty cute with her red toenails.

  6. Margo on July 10, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Diane, I know the excitement of starting a new project after working so long and hard on another. It IS pure enjoyment! I love Starbucks and stop for a huge cup every a.m. (love the new Pike’s Roast!)…I asked if my fav coffee location was going to close and the answer was ‘no’ so I was very happy about that. Diane, I hope it’s the last time you have to revise ATS and you can move on with your new book. I’m with Brenda, any hints on the new one? (-:

  7. Margo on July 10, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Diane, I love the pics you find for your blogs. Sometimes the first thing I look at with the computer is your website and seeing some of these hilarious photos make a fun start for the day. This little pooch is a darling with her red painted toes! (-:

  8. Gina on July 10, 2008 at 8:42 am

    *raises hand* Yes, I’m one of those people that has to start the day with a cup of Starbucks. It’s one of the things I treat myself with. And, yes, I completely agree, it is definitely an acquired taste. My sister-in-law calls Starbucks…LavaBucks. Hee Hee
    Thanks for the link to that site of those delicious photos, Diane. I am always looking for neat stuff like this to jazz-up the newsletters that I do for my bookclub members each month. This site you mentioned looks like loads of fun. Thank you.

  9. Ann on July 10, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I am a Starbucks Coffee fan! I use the beans at home and indulge in a large coffee whenever I purchase the beans. Margo, Yes the new Pike’s Roast is a winner. It is just as good in the decaf as the regular. I don’t usually like any decaf as well as regular but I cannot tell the difference in Pike’s Roast!

  10. Margo on July 10, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Ann, thx for letting me know about Pikes Roast decaf…I love coffee in the evenings but never have regular after 4 in the afternoon or I’d be up all night (just like reading Diane’s books…I’m up all nite with them!)…I have Pikes’s regular in the morning and will definitely try the decaf for evenings. If we have company for dinners on the weekends I like to make coffee to go with dessert so this is going to be a plus.
    I’m curious to what everyone’s reading right now. I think we’ve all read BEFORE THE STORM and are all wishing AFTER THE STORM was out, but it won’t be too much longer, right? Diane, with your busy schedule have you had a chance to read something new?

  11. Gina on July 10, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Margo – I’m reading Elizabeth Berg’s “The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted.” It’s great! I love it.
    This is the first time that I’m reading a book based on short stories. I was kind of suprised to hear that Elizabeth wrote a book like this and I love her so much, I’m giving it a try.
    I love, love, this book. I highly recommend it. Some of it is funny and some sad. I think there’s something for everyone in this book.

  12. Diane Chamberlain on July 10, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Gina, is this a new Berg? How did I miss it? I recently finished, as I previously mentioned, JULIE AND JULIA by Julie Powell, which I ultimately enjoyed. Then a couple of nights ago, I finished James McBride’s THE COLOR OF WATER, which is a fascinating memoir about his mother (and him). His mother was a Jewish immigrant from Poland, and he is half African American. Fascinating story. I just started THE LOST RAVIOLI RECIPES OF HOBOKEN by Laura Schenone. I have no idea if I’ll like it or not, because I was torn away by the line edits of AFTER THE STORM.
    Margo, you need to tell us how the unveiling of your new artwork went!

  13. Gina on July 10, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Yep, Diane, that’s the new Berg. I hope you read it, it’s wonderful. Will having you laughing and crying.
    LOL! I read The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken. Only because of my Italian heritage and I’m originally from Hoboken. I couldn’t pass this book up. Actually, it started out really, really good. But towards the end, I kind of got bored with it. I’ll be interested to see what you think.
    I read Color of Water as well and loved it.

  14. Denise on July 10, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    After I finished BEFORE THE STORM, I read the Keeper of the Light trilogy which I hated to see end!
    This week I read Michelle Richmond’s newest, NO ONE YOU KNOW. Good novel, great writing, but I had to skim over some of the drawn-out sections on mathematics. Yawn. I would recommend the book, though, as well as her A YEAR OF FOG.
    Now I will backtrack and catch up on some of Diane’s earlier books.

  15. Ann on July 10, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    I am reading one of Mary Alice Monroe’s older books that I somehow missed. The title is Skyward. I have read only a few chapters but it is a good book so far! One of the characters works with injured birds of prey. I have always been interested in birds and last year we had a pair of hawks nest in a tree in our back yard. They raised 2 babies there and watching the way they took turns with the babies was fascinating. The young ones came back fairly often last summer but we haven’t seen them this year.

  16. Margo on July 11, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Diane, the unveiling was a wonderful experience for me and I’m quessing there were around 400-500 people, possibly more. My sister took lots of pics and will be e-mailing me with them probably early next week which I will forward to you. The people at John Deere were so nice to me, asking lots of great questions about myself and my art and they had 10 HUGE cakes that were decorated with artists palettes and paints and brushes which were absolutely delicious. I’ve painted for many art shows, festivals, private commissions and business’s but this event had to be the highlight of my artistic career…the people who work for John Deere are wonderful and so down to earth and they make a point to announce they believe in promoting Iowa artists so I have alot of respect for them. I’m anxious to see how my sisters photos came out! Gary took lots of pics of the paintings before we delivered them to John Deere so I will definitely send them to you Diane. Thx for being excited for me!
    I’m reading a book by Luanne Rice written in 2002 called ‘TRUE BLUE’ which is wonderful. Her new book called ‘LAST KISS’ comes out next week.

  17. brenda on July 11, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Wow!! You are all so busy…I have read the books you girls have mentioned and concur on your opinions…COLOR…wow!!! a great one…I am reading Joyce Carol Oates MISSING MOM (I think I missed that one somehow…) and rereading her WE WERE THE MULHANEYS…I am taking all books back to library on Sunday…I start SHAKESPEARE on Monday–Wednesday night…we drive to D.C. on Thursday (about 8 hours or so) and we fly to London that night…we will stay there a few days before a couple of nights in Stratford-upon-Avon…I think we return about the 25 or 26-th Since this is a GRANT through HUMANITIES–I just print off details and take as I go. We usually take one side trip…I will do Stonehedge or Dover Beach-not sure which…I may do Paris trip-but that is a long time to travel for ONE DAY…I did all of this two years ago-same grant–and it was tremendously wonderful…I did not do the Paris trip and was sorry…I will email from the hotel…they have computers there for those of us who must stay in touch with home. FUNNY thing-last time, the bus driver who took us to Stratford told me that he vacations each year at my favorite place–MYRTLE BEACH, S.C…I just laughed as I looked around at the beautiful gardens and all that he has in his back yard.
    Diane-your book is in a place of prominence in the library-they know me well-from my column and as a teacher…The women who work there rec. your books to many others…

  18. Denise on July 11, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Brenda, I bought MISSING MOM a long time ago but just could not get into it at the time. Maybe I need to give it another try.

  19. Gina on July 11, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I agree with you Denise. I had a hard time getting thru MISSING MOM too. I guess I just wasn’t ready to read it at the time.

  20. Diane Chamberlain on July 11, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Gina, I was drawn to RAVIOLI for the same “Italian-girl-from-Jersey” reason. I’ll let you know what I think, if I can ever get back to it.
    I stopped in Quail Ridge Books today to sign some of their stock and bought the new Elizabeth Berg, as well as Michelle Richmond’s THE YEAR OF FOG. I can buy much faster than I can read, I’m afraid!
    Margo, I’m so excited for you! What a thrill this must have been. I’ll put one of the pictures on my blog when you send it. I know your fellow “commenters” here would love to see your work.
    Brenda, I’m jealous of your upcoming trip. You’re going to have a blast. I have to admit, I haven’t read Joyce Carol Oates in years, although I used to adore her.
    Ann, I really enjoyed SKYWARD, though it’s been quite a while since I read it. Mary Alice writes so beautifully about relationships of all sorts.
    You know who hasn’t commented in a while? Krysia! LOL! Can’t imagine why not. . .

  21. brenda on July 11, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    I miss Krysia too!!! Lucky girl…a little one…
    Denise and Gina, I really like MISSING MOM (I think I attempted it before…) For some reason, I am liking it better.
    Have any of you read AMERICAN AIRLINES by the woman who wrote EAT

  22. Ann on July 11, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    I am almost finished with Skyward and I really love this book.
    I think you will like Year of Fog – There are some relationship “issues” in it and also a good bit about photography. You will have John there to answer any questions you might have. I enjoyed it very much.

  23. Denise on July 11, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Brenda, MISSING MOM looked like something I would really like so I think I’ll give it another try. It just seemed to start off so dry and slow that I didn’t have the patience to go on. Ha!
    Ann, I almost forgot about the photography topic in YEAR OF FOG!
    Diane, don’t feel bad if you skim over some of the paragraphs on memory. I did. They were a little drawn out but interesting. If anyone reads NO ONE YOU KNOW, you will find a very brief but fun passage where the the author (Michelle Richmond) actually criticizes her own work in YEAR OF FOG for being a little too drawn out.

  24. Ann on July 11, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Denise, I did a good bit of “skimming” in the memory chapters also.

  25. Nan G on July 12, 2008 at 5:30 am

    Diane, I love the chi-dog. Especially, the red toe nails! I really enjoy reading about your writing life. Thanks for giving through your blog.

  26. brenda on July 12, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Denise-I read so much and so fast that I don’t remember everything I read. MISSING MOM touched me because it happens so quickly…one moment a mother is there-the next she is not. The way the daughters dealt with what happened was the story that I liked. I am reading another by Oates-her latest, MY SISTER, MY LOVE…not sure I will finish it-I will let you know..I wish I did not read so fast-there would be more books…Better go do lesson plans…take a break..Let me know if you read it again…

  27. Diane Chamberlain on July 13, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks for visiting the blog, Nan!

  28. Michelle Richmond on February 25, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I hope you enjoy THE YEAR OF FOG. I’m delighted to know it’s on your reading list. I completely understand your joy at getting back into the actual writing of a book, and a new book at that, after being immersed in promotion, website, edits, etc. It’s encouraging to hear someone who has written so many books talk about how much delight it still brings you. I do sometimes worry that, one day,I may start to lose steam, or worse, lose interest. I think that’s why a NEW book is so much fun–the excitement of starting over.
    Thanks to Ann and Denise for mentioning The Year of Fog as well. And Denise, I love that you caught the reference in NO ONE YOU KNOW!
    I stumbled upon this blog twice in the last week–today, because of your mention of my book, but earlier, because I was browsing AuthorBytes website (I’m considering a complete overhaul of my own). Yours looks terrific. Did you find them easy to work with?

  29. Diane Chamberlain on February 25, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Michele, welcome to the blog! I loved THE YEAR OF FOG. I’ll get in touch off the blog to discuss website stuff with you. Have fun balancing writing and promotion. Always a challenge!

Leave a Comment