- Someday Lesson: If you strive to always be happy, you cut out at least half of life’s experiences.
Flash forward to two weeks ago where I finally figured it out: I had no conflict happening in the middle of the novel. Of course I couldn’t write it. Novels need conflict – readers need to feel that something important is at stake or there’s nothing interesting to read.
And yet in real life, everyone wants to live in a conflict-free HappyLand of their own making.
Why? Why is conflict and struggle important in fiction but something to be avoided in real life?
In yesterday’s Someday Interview, Hunter Nuttall compared drowning in happiness to drinking ourselves into a stupor every day. I loved that idea. I even tagged the post with suckiness for the first time on my blog because this idea of life needing to have its sucky moments struck me as hugely important.
Being a dramatic person I enjoy every emotion I’ve ever felt. Like most people, I’ve had my share of low points as well as high and mediocre points. And I’ve let myself feel every single one of them fully. The worst times in my life haven’t been when I’ve hit a low point – but when I lived with the autopilot turned on.
Is it possible to enjoy negative emotions? Hell yes! When a boyfriend cheated on me, I decided to be bitter and I explored bitterness from beginning to end, until I (and everyone around me) had had enough of it.
Then there was the period where I’d been (wrongly) diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Some days I chose to savour the pain, lack of energy and hopelessness. Since I lived with the pain on a daily basis, to deny it meant denying my existence. The pain was a part of who I was at that time.
Yes, I usually put on a brave smile and went on living, but sometimes I gave myself permission to feel like complete and utter crap.
I enjoyed it.
One definition for enjoy is: to have and use with satisfaction; have the benefit of.
I am a human being with a full range of emotions. I have the benefit of experiencing them all and making my life complete. By refusing to have and use negative emotions, I limited my life by at least half.
My negative emotions often spur me on to happier states. When I realize that I’m in a negative place, I look for ways to turn the negative viewpoints around (as I did last week about my writing). I don’t suppress them – I welcome them because they teach me something new about myself.
As the Roman writer Petronius said: Moderation in all things, including moderation.
P.S. In completely non-sucky news, my novel An Extraordinarily Ordinary Life made it to the quarterfinals in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest (top 500 of 10,000). April 15th I’ll find out if I make it to the semifinals.