Joy in My Work


Each year about this time, we order a cord of firewood to burn in our wood burning stove, and we spend a Saturday working as a family to haul and stack it for the winter.

Paul gave that same energy to a wood cutting project for another family last October, but ended up in the hospital by the end of it. Needless to say, we didn’t haul our own wood last fall.

Through the winter, we used what we had and then made do with fewer fires by burning the stuff we’d cast aside because it was not oak or was too long for our stove. We not only missed the firewood, we missed the work itself.

As a result, the load of firewood in our driveway this month energized me for our work tradition once again. Over a few fall days, each of us carried loads of logs to our wood pile and stacked it for the winter months ahead. It was work. But we were glad to have the wood and the strength to haul it.

I knew why the next day when I heard this quote in church,

“Work is always a spiritual necessity even if, for some, work is not an economic necessity.” (Neal Maxwel)

And I felt why last week when I met my goal to finish my novel.

My work writing fiction this year didn’t appear on my driveway like this pile of wood with a clear place to put it and a sure knowledge about when my  job would be complete. I certainly didn’t have any specific assignment or economic promise at the end.

I hunted through my imaginary pile of ideas to identify characters and a setting and began to tell a story. I had a vague picture in my mind, but I wavered in the beginning since I still wasn’t sure exactly how the end of the story or my project’s success might appear.

I gathered words, sorted them and stacked them high enough that I could see enough of the form emerge and justify giving my priority to this work.

After I built enough to show someone else, the positive feedback I received told me that the story I was creating looked as real as our wood stacked for winter.

Just as I reached the story’s climax, work became an ever greater economic necessity, and I needed a job with a clear assignment and a paycheck at the end. Rather than set aside the project, I increased my creative pace.

Last week, amidst personal questions and distress, I wrote the final scenes. Despite all the questions I needed to answer personally, writing was my joy. It was not longer tedious or anxiety building. It relieved my stress and excited possibilities.

With all the words of my story stacked together I had 314 pages and just under 90,000 words. But something had changed in me as I labored on this project. I learned to find joy in the work itself, almost as much as in the end result.

I’ve moved on to revisions, and then will start the process for publication. So, while I am finished, the book is not complete. But like real life, our work never is, is it?


  1. Raya
    Nov 16, 2009

    ok… when are you offering it on line for all of us to read?

  2. Emalee
    Nov 16, 2009

    That is so amazing Teresa. I am so excited for you and the journey you are on with this project.

  3. Rebecca
    Nov 17, 2009

    Oh I’m so excited for you. I know you still have a lot of WORK to do, but this is such an exciting moment for you! Can’t wait for it to be published and buyable!

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