Happiness Ruins My Writing

June 18, 2021

Being sleepy makes me stupid and insecure. I'm stressed out. My inhibitions are down. I make so many bad decisions when I'm sleepy that I don't allow myself to text friends at night. It's like drunk dialing.

Late at night is when I write and post all my best material. I created the Darwin Game because I was feeling lonely and bored one night and I was too shortsighted to grasp how much work it would entail. The more dysfunctional I am at life the better I am at writing, and vice versa.

I don't think I'm alone in this respect. Jeph Jacques mentions wrestling with depression. Chuck Palahniuk seems like he might be even more of a mess. When I think of Randy Milholland and Fred Gallagher the adjective "happy" is not what jumps to my mind. "Tortured artist" is a cliché.

A good author tortures his or her characters over and over again while loving them. My writing is motivated by catharsis. I write to resolve problems I'm wrestling with. When my life is going well I don't have anything worth writing about. A happy person is not in need of salvation.

The writing I create when I'm happy feels like advertising copy. It reads like a corporate memo. There's no teeth to it. There's no desperation. I'm not screaming unavailingly against the universe.

I'm also more prudent in what I say. Art is not about tact. You don't inspire others by being noncomittal. You don't have your way with history by being reasonable. Personal expression and self-restraint are mutually-exclusive.

Drunk dialing may not be gramatically correct, but it is absolutely sincere.