Day 22 Lucy March – Celebrating Joy

Never Be Ashamed of What Makes You Happy…

We’ve all heard the stories. The people who hide a romance novel inside a Tolstoy dust jacket for the morning commute. The That Touch of Magic - Lucy Marchpeople who deride genre fiction despite the fact that they’ve only read maybe one or two, if any at all. The successful women’s fiction author who is asked at a party how it feels to write “trash.”

Let’s face it; while our culture has many wonderful things to offer, it froths above a seedy undercurrent of shame and judgment that gets attached to certain things. In the storytelling class I teach at Syracuse University, the topic eventually hits on the “low-brow” entertainment that seems so popular these days. My answer is the same two-part answer it always is: The only person who suffers from snobbery is the snob, and never be ashamed of anything that makes you happy.

My go-to example for the first part of that answer is my own experience. When I was fresh out of film school, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a big hit, I had a good friend who insisted I watch it. “Oh, right,” I said. “Like I’m going to watch something called Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” It was a full seven years later, after the show had come to an end and all I was hearing from my writing friends was Buffy, Buffy, Buffy that I finally sat down to devour it, season by season, in a lost month of wild narrative abandon.

I was enthralled. Buffy was smart, and funny, and emotionally charged. It was important, and to this day, I have never taught a class without at least once using Buffy as an example of how to do something right, and I have never taught a class without telling my students that no one suffered from my snobbery but me.

The B-side of my two-part answer is even more important; never be ashamed of anything that makes you happy.

I know; sometimes it’s tough when you’re reading a terrific book, but all that shows to the world is the prodigious décolletage or man-titty on the cover, and you feel judged and shamed by anyone who can see you. So, you hide your mass-market inside a respectable hardcover, or you thank God for the Kindle that keeps your reading preferences private. That’s all well and good, but the problem isn’t that other people are judging you.

It’s that you are judging you. And that, my darling, we just can’t have.

The world is a crazy place, full of sleazy politicians and injustice and heartbreak and bad weather. It’s also a wonderful place, full of ice cream and late-night giggles and great sex and polka dots. Anything that adds to the wonder, that makes you happy inside, is a good thing. So I don’t care what it is that you love – Real Housewives or pop music from the 80s or, dare we say it out loud, romance novels – you should never hide from or apologize for your joy. It’s popular now to be a hipster douchebag about everything, to insist that everything is crap and nothing is worthy, but anything that generates happiness makes the world a better place, and should be celebrated.

So, today, your job is simply this: Go out into the world and proclaim your love for whatever you love, without shame and without apology. Let other people suffer from their fear of embracing what they love; do not share in their joyless fate. The world needs your happiness, so grab a great book and serve the world well.

Questions for the Author:

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.

I think the most daring thing I ever did was move to Alaska. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet, and I spent five wonderful years working in Anchorage, which I loved. The only reason I ever left was because it was so far away from everywhere else, but I absolutely loved the sun being up all day in the summers, and I loved going to work in the dark in the winters. I’ve always had a thing for variety, and Alaska scratched that itch in spades.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

I’ve always been interested in storytelling, but I never thought I could make a living at it, so I didn’t pursue it. But when I quit my job to be home with my daughters, I decided I couldn’t lose anything by spending some time writing, so I joined up for Nanowrimo in November of 2002, and over those thirty days I wrote what would become my first novel, Time Off For Good Behavior. From there, I quickly got an agent and a publisher, and it’s been a wild ride ever since!

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

Faking it, by Jenny Crusie. I read that after finishing writing my first book, but before I decided to try to get published. I loved that book so much that I decided I wanted to give it a try. Seven years later, in a bizarre twist of fate, Jenny became one of my closest friends, and I ended up moving with my two daughters into the attic apartment of Jenny’s incredible house on the Ohio river, where we had an amazing few years being housemates. I guess when things are meant to be, they’re meant to be!

Lucy is generously giving away two copies of THAT TOUCH OF MAGIC, which came out in February 2014. Domestic only, apologies to international readers. Entry below.


Lucy March is the pseudonym of NYT bestselling author Lani Diane Rich. She lives in Central New York with her husband and daughters, and teaches storytelling at Syracuse University. She also co-hosts the weekly storytelling podcast, StoryWonk Sunday, with her husband, Alastair Stephens.

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