I’ve been in a really good mood lately. Things are going well. I’m happily married to a bright, sexy, appealingly sarcastic human being named Cynthia; both my beautiful kids live either at, or just across the street from, the college where I teach; I couldn’t ask for better colleagues; I adore my students; and I’m healthy and reasonably fit for my age (though my knees now literally creak, from all that basketball). And, I’m writing.
When I write, I’m happy. And when I’m happy, I’m a better husband, a more patient father, a more relaxed teacher. And maybe a better writer. Certainly one with more range. I just wrote a short story that made my friends laugh—twice. That’s a new thing for me.
I have always thought that an artist needed a little dyspepsia, if not a combination of alcoholism and a fatal disease, to produce meaningful work. But lately I’ve been thinking of writers, from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Jonathan Safron Foer, who were/are fairly happy, mild-mannered men, and things still worked out well for them.
After years (okay, decades) of making everything and everyone else a priority and “fitting in” my writing whenever I could, I am now forging that writing time, sculpting it out for myself, almost every day of the week. I still slip up—days come and go with no attention to writing and a lot of essay-grading—but more than ever, I’m sticking with the program. Every day, I spend at least some time on my writing—if not composing, then revising, or submitting, or readying something for submission, or reading in my field (which is, after all, a kind of research). Early morning before work. Lunchtime. After work. Or during work, escaping to the coffee shop for an hour here or there. And weekends.
Anyway, it’s having an effect, not only an increase in the number of stories I’m getting published (four in the past seven months), but also in my mood.
And that’s just good for everybody.