A Joyous Responsibility -- by Jane Kelley

I will begin this post with a confession. I don't always love what I do. Often I don't even like it.

Isn't writing for kids fun? Of course it is!
Didn't you always want to be a published author? Of course I did!

And yet there are those days. I don't need to tell you what they're like. When the work is going badly, I swear something is wrong with my email inbox. Nothing good chimes in. If the stretch is particularly bleak, I have been known to seek comfort by reading old fan mail.

But it's far more nourishing to open up a collection of essays written by someone like Philip Pullman. Daemon Voices:  Essays on Storytelling.

Blackberry gives the book her "seat" of approval.

"There is a joy too in responsibility itself––in the knowledge that what we're doing on earth, while we live, is being done to the best of our ability, and in the light of everything we know about what is good and true."

I found this quote in the essay entitled "Magic Carpet," taken from Philip Pullman's speech to the Society of Authors' Children's Writers and Illustrators in 2002. 

Why does it resonate with me? Because it links joy with responsibility. They are such an unlikely pair that if we met them as a couple, we'd be certain they'd never make it past the first date. 

It's easy to understand our responsibility. Our books whisper in children's ears. Our words, even though they are fiction, are taken to be truer than truth. Later in the same paragraph, Pullman says: "To bear the responsibility of giving delight and hurting not is one of the greatest privilege a human being can have." 

So this is our challenge. But is it joy? 

Yes, when my work is going well and I feel that I am living up to my potential, and doing what I am meant to be doing, and that it matters what I do. There is joy when an idea fits sweetly in the plot and the character comes through her struggles. 

And I do too.


  1. That really is such a great concept--linking joy and responsibility.

  2. Thanks, Jane. Needed that today!

  3. This applies to so many things in life. Lately I've been drowning in family responsibilities - but want to try to meet them in the light of "everything I know about what is good and true." Thanks for sharing this.


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