Yesterday, I read a blog post, Creativity and Rejection: Is There a Link? It was quite interesting, including a snippet of a much-bleeped interview with Janis Joplin, so I forwarded the email to a group of writer friends. The conversation that followed has been fascinating.
Many of these writers have focused their comments on the kind of childhood one had (happy or lonely or abusive) and whether the author leans toward a darker, more pessimistic personality type, prone to depression, or whether the author leans toward the happy, optimistic side.
Can you guess which camp I’m in?
Hint: I have been called Pollyanna more than once in my life.
Some thought that it was a darker past and tendency toward depression that drove them to be writers. Not so for me. I just always loved words, and I have a vivid imagination. I am a born storyteller. Started as a child. They called it lying. <g> Seriously, I told stories to entertain. The better the reaction of my listeners, the longer I could spin those tales. I told stories in the letters I wrote. I told stories through my involvement in theater. And finally I began telling stories in novels.
I haven’t avoided difficult things, of course. Truth is, my adult life hasn’t been a cake walk. I’ve been able to glean lots of trials and heartaches for my writing from my own experiences. I also have an innate ability to empathize with others, which I think is a critical tool for a novelist and which I have cultivated over time.
Ultimately, I’m wired to be happy. I look for the best in people and situations. Always have. I had a wonderful, if not financially prosperous, childhood. Yes, my dad died when I was a baby, but I was loved and treasured by my mother and brother and grandmother and aunts and cousins. I had the very best of extended families, even with the shortage of men by the time I came along (one uncle and my brother were the only males in the family until my cousins got married). I am one of those obnoxious people who comes awake feeling happy and ready to have an immediate conversation about anything. When I was president of RWA, I roomed with the secretary at board meetings, and she asked me once, “Are you always like this in the morning?” Uh, yes. I am. Is there a problem?
I have since learned to have a little more pity on my introverted and/or night owl friends and loved ones (husband and oldest daughter included).
I heard the line I used for the title of this post from a friend, a fellow happy-camper. She was instructed by someone years ago not to sparkle before breakfast. I love that! It simply says it all, doesn’t it?
Miss Merry Sunshine, singing “Cockeyed Optimist” from South Pacific as she signs this post