Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I discovered the Yiddish word naches in a novel years ago. One character, a brilliant self-made businessman, was always on the go, flying white-knuckled from deal to deal, taking big risks for the sake of even bigger returns. The guy was hugely obese, and one day, in the middle of a major deal, he dropped down dead of a heart attack. He left behind his devoted stay-at-home wife and some five or six young children. When a friend asked the wife how she would cope without the larger-than-life presence of her husband, she smiled sadly and explained that she got lots of naches from her children.

Naches means joy. To shep naches means to derive pleasure. Jewish children are expected to provide their parents with naches in the form of achievement, but the wife was referring to all the unique joys that children bring: their innocence, love, trust, and perceptiveness, watching them sleep, watching them grow. As a parent myself, I understood what she meant.

I've been thinking of late about the special naches that writers experience. Most of us make little or no money from this racket, but there are some special joys - the naches - that make the writer's journey so very worth it:

— Connecting with other writers and feeling a sense of community, a bond with others who actually get the whole writing thing, and who understand the business is not all about Oprah and six figure deals.

— Stumbling upon a great review. When I do I literally clutch my chest because my heart pounds so hard. I discovered one on the Silhouette forum, of all places. (I'm published by Dorchester.) Another was by a Goodreads librarian who even took the trouble to place her review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Shelfari. Ah, naches!

— Discovering that some unknown reader has put you on her list of favorite authors, or recommended your book on a blog you'd never heard of before Google dropped an alert in your inbox.

— Connecting with an author whose book you enjoyed some time in the past. I reviewed one such book, then saw the author on a buddy's blog, and the author and I are now good friends. She's from the UK but we've discovered so many commonalities it's almost bizarre. She even lived for awhile on Grenada, an island where I worked as a newspaper editor for a short time. Naches!

Emilija and Dejan with their hard-won copy of Café Au Lait

Then there's this kind of totally serendipitous happenstance. Emilija, an engineer/architect from Macedonia who works in Montenegro (yes, I had to pull up a map to reacquaint myself with my hazy geography) contacted me on Facebook and asked how she could get my book, since ordering it on the Internet was not an option for her. I told her that some bookstores would order it even if they didn't carry the title. She wrote again saying that the stores she tried couldn't help but her boyfriend, who's from Slovenia (!) checked bookstores there and was able to place the order. When the book arrived in Slovenia she let me know, happy that it was only "860km far away from my hands". And when her boyfriend, Dejan, arrived bearing gifts, she sent me the photo above. As my son would say, how cool is that? :)

When the writing won't flow, when the wait for agents/editors/publishers to respond becomes tedious, when a review stinks, when the rejections flow in, the advances are insulting, and doom and gloom pollute the publishing news, when we're besieged by self-doubt or self-disgust, when life happens and s**t happens, and we feel that all-too-familiar despair creeping in... there are the naches, arriving out of the blue to set the world - the writer's world - to rights again.

Liane Spicer


Stefanie Worth said...

Loved your post, Liane! I find it easy to tally the joys in my day-to-day life, often lumping writing into the bunch as a singular entity. But today is a great time to dissect my heart's desire and ferret out a set of its own naches. Thanks for the inspiration.

Debs said...

Great post. I hadn't come across the wort naches before, but love it and it's meaning.

Phyllis Bourne said...

Wonderful post, Liane! One of the coolest things about being an writer is meeting authors you've admired for eons.

Lane said...

Superb post. I think naches is my new favourite word.

Marissa Monteilh said...

Amen - recognizing and being grateful for, the naches. Love it!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, when other people get naches it becomes your naches. I am happy for you and your successes in the many ways they have come. Amazing and deserved!

We all expect naches but never know where, of if they will come. But I got some recent naches from a full-page ad by the fed up 69% last Saturday. To grumble in silence is really a pointless thing ;)

Liane Spicer said...

Thanks, guys. I particularly appreciate the naches that come unexpectedly, just when you need a little something to lift the spirits.