I know what you’re thinking; give me these problems! But I wonder if this truly exists. I think about this now because, as I mentioned in a previous post, in Joshua Ferris’s To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, he describes the main character’s ex-girlfriend, who he hired to be his office manager, but then (unwisely) did not fire after they broke up, going through a period where she experienced this phenomenon. She used to write poetry, but then found that, in this blissful “honeymoon” period of their relationship, she was simply too happy to write.
Me personally, I don’t know if I’ve ever been too happy for anything. Certainly not too happy to write. But I wonder if certain emotions, certain periods of our lives, are more conducive to writing than others.
I find that when I am particularly angry I can write some quick, biting, very funny, very sarcastic, very aggressive material. And it comes very easily. And I think it’s very good. I don’t think I could capture the same tone and urgency if I was trying to write that same material, but artificially, from a place of contentment (I don’t know that I would describe anger as the opposite of happiness for me. Maybe not even sadness. I think my opposite of happiness is probably despair, or loss of hope).
When I am in love, and moved by love, especially new love, that writing too I think is very good, and comes very easily, but it is very different from my angry writing. This “love” though, at least for me, is rarely the blissful honeymoon happiness I think Ferris referred to; there is more a sense of urgency, also angst, and it borders on recklessness. It is not a constant, contented state. It is a state of flux, and there are feelings of elusiveness, even as it moves towards what would seem like certainty.
In short, I am never content.
But I think if I was, and were I to try to write in that state, it would probably be very sappy indeed. I don’t always write for the mood I am in; sometimes I write aspiring for a different mood or state of being. But what I read rarely seems to be written from a place of calm, blissful contentment. Does anyone write from that place? And if so, does anyone do it well?
On some level I do think I fear achieving a place of calm and serenity, and the impact it would have. On my writing. Of course, in the heat of the moment, I would trade most of my stress and frustration and sorrow and anger for its opposite. But what would that do to my writing?
Why do we write? Do we write to battle unhappiness? If we were so happy we could barely stand it, would any of us write at all? Do we write thinking writing will make us happy?
I often find myself thinking “man, if only I didn’t have a job and all these responsibilities. If only I could just have more hours of my life devoted to long, pondering walks, and reading, and thinking, and WRITING, that would be so amazing. I would be the best, most prolific writer ever.” But I bet that’s not true. If I had nothing but time, and all stresses removed, what would be my motivation? And what would I write about? Puppies? Sunsets? Chocolate? LAME!
I guess I don’t know if I can imagine being too “happy” to write. But I can imagine being too…something. I’ll let you know if I ever actually get there.