As some of you said yesterday, sometimes we create out of happiness.
I can remember at least two prolonged times in my varied writing careers when I felt so grateful and joyful to be writing that I couldn't wait to get up every morning and get at it. One of those times was in my late twenties when I switched from writing training programs for a corporation (filmstrips for selling lawn mowers!) to freelance writing. Oh, my god, the bliss! Working at home! No more rush hours! The other time was in my mid thirties when I switched from that to writing fiction full time.
But the thing of it is, and to tell you the total truth, both of those experiences were preceded by misery. I hated working for a corporation, hated regular hours, etc., and that unhappiness finally exploded into quitting my job, wandering off to Europe for several months, and then coming home to try freelance writing, where I made half as much money, worked twice as hard, and had three times as much fun. The happiness didn't come until the first day I sat down to write in my own apartment, on my own time. But eventually, over seven years, that pleasure paled, too. For some reason, I didn't discover much meaning in writing ad copy for funeral homes and catalog copy for auto supply stores. Go figure. :) And so the misery of that, along with the unhappiness of the miscarriage I mentioned yesterday, blasted me into being a novelist, as I still am.
Intensity of emotion seems to have a role to to play in creativity, for sure. Family Man pointed that out in the comments yesterday, and there was some agreement with that, including from me. I think there's also something to be said for emotion that has been suppressed for a long time--misery with a job, for instance. Tamp that strong feeling down hard enough, for long enough, and something's gonna burst out.
As I thought about it, though, I had to admit that I certainly don't feel intensely emotional every day when I sit down to write. (As if I wrote every day, ha! But that's another topic.) Far from it, alas. Most of the time--when it's going well--what I feel is something on a scale that could be labeled with "Misery" at one end and "Joy" at the other, and usually I'm somewhere toward the middle. Either I feel an inner eagerness to get something flowing out of my fingers, or I feel a kind of gritchy edginess that will turn to something worse if I can't get to work soon.
I have a dear friend who has been a professional writer for years and she says she has never felt unhappy before she starts writing, but I'll tell you that her family would disagree with that. :) They know what happens if events/people keep her away from her computer when she wants/needs to be there.
I'm not drawing firm conclusions here, or at least I don't think I am. I think maybe. . .maybe. . .the key is feelings, but they aren't always strong ones and they aren't always unpleasant ones. It's just that strong ones do seem to catapult a person into creativity sometimes, or at least they have done for me. At fairly rare times, I feel shot out of a canon. Most of the time I either feel pulled over to my computer by an invisible cord from my solar plexus, or pushed over to it by a nervous feeling that I have to get the words down NOW.
What's the point of pondering all this? I can only speak for moi. Partly, it's curiosity. Because I spend my life creating an apparent something out of apparent nothing, I'm deeply curious about where all that comes from, and how to keep it coming when it doesn't want to. Sometimes, I have used this information when I've been stuck, frozen, paralyzed, and I've been able to get the flow going again. Not always, but often enough to make me sit up and pay attention.
Lately, it's not working so well. But this conversation is giving me clues as to why, and once again, it's coming back to feeling--my characters' and my own. Who was it who said, "writing's easy. Just open a vein."? Indeed.
And a feelingful morning to you, one and all. :)