At Stonyfield, we think a lot about things like happiness and joy, and what makes a good life. So we’ve been asking some of our own folks: Other than making great yogurt, what brings joy to YOUR life?
This week, we talked to Dan DiPiro, senior copywriter here at Stonyfield. In his day job, Dan writes our newsletters, all of the clever little things on our yogurt cups, and lots of other good stuff. But catch Dan at home, and you’ll find him pursuing his joy: writing short stories and books. If you CAN catch Dan, that is… because something else he loves to do is run – a lot.
Q: So Dan, you’re a writer, both professionally and personally. A lot of people find writing hard. What about it brings you joy?
A: I like everything about writing, from just the activity of stringing words together, to expressing ideas, to winning over readers. I also enjoy just having a writing project in the works. It’s fun to always be building and creating in your mind and watching the world around you for potential fodder.
Q: What are some of your personal highlights from writing – moments that just felt really great?
A: Having short stories published—even in just the small journals that have accepted my work—has been a big thrill for me. More than anything else, my short-fiction publications have made me feel like a bona fide writer.
Finding a sympathetic audience for my ski book also felt good. A lot of my ski teaching flew in the face of conventional skiing wisdom, which made writing the book a little scary. When readers embraced my ideas, it was really validating.
And, then, just a routine morning of writing can feel great. Right now, I’m finishing a novel, and it’s going well. I work on it every morning, and the work is a pleasure.
Q: Do you have any advice for people – young or old – who want to get more joy out of their writing?
A: I’d just tell them to write every day. Make writing an integral part of your life. A regular practice. The more you practice writing, the more you enjoy it, regardless of when publication may come.
Q: You’re also a runner. Tell us a bit about that.
A: My typical race distances are from 5K to 15K. My typical training week has me running sixty to sixty five miles. I run mostly on the road and track, but I also like training on trails, because soft surfaces are easier on my aging body.
Q: What do you love about it?
A: The competition. I love working toward new personal records and competing against other runners. Racing is difficult and humbling, but it can be so much fun. I love race days and still get jittery on the start line. I also love the camaraderie and friendships I’ve found through relay racing and training in groups
Q: Be honest: does running always bring you joy, or are there times when you have to push yourself to put on your shoes?
Right, I’m not brimming with joy every time I pull on my running shoes. Running is a discipline, so it takes effort. But I do find nearly every run at least somewhat rewarding.
Q: What’s the best thing you think you’ve learned from running and/or writing?
A: Both writing and running have taught me to persevere. Both demand regular practice over a long period of time. You can’t learn to write well in a few months, and writing a novel can easily take more than a year. Likewise, you can’t reach your full running potential in just one season. Writing and running also both deliver some hard knocks—like rejection letters and slow-healing injuries—that’ll either make you quit or teach you to persevere.
Q: Besides on the page and on the road, what else brings joy to your life?
A: Spending time with my partner Carol and her four kids. We’ve all shared a home for a couple years now and have a lot of fun together around meals, sports, trips and just living, working and being together.
One of my main contributions at home is cooking. I’ve always liked to cook and once considered opening a gourmet pizza place. Now that I’m head cook in a household with four nearly-grown kids, I feel like I’m finally running that restaurant I never opened.
Other things that bring me joy? Occasional visits with my parents and spending time with friends. All these relationships bring me joy.