Writing, Stephen King and Getting Happy

I’ve never read a Stephen King novel, but I decided to give his book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” a try.

When I got to that part where King says that writing makes you happy, I rolled my eyes and muttered, Yeah. Easy for him to say.

I don’t recall what incited that day’s snark attack, but it’s safe to say that I was probably so busy with work that I had limited or no time to write — hence, the grumpies.

I snapped out of it, and now, King’s “get happy” line is one of those lines that I wish I had written first, or at minimum, I wish that King had used me as Exhibit A, as his writing-makes-you-happy poster child.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

Mind you, the work-happiness equation is easier to define in its absence — when we know that it’s our job that’s making us frantic or fractious.

So hands up now, who among you has not had one of those toxic jobs, those cubicle-bound incarcerations where Friday couldn’t come fast enough? Oh, yes. You know the gigs — the stuff of “Dilbert” cartoons and T.V. sitcoms (“The Office”).

Now and again, when I’m rummaging through the basement for old snow boots or a lost kitchen gadget, I come across a box of my old journals. I can’t resist. I open a random notebook and flick to a random page. For that set of journals dating from the early to the mid-`90s, I’m struck by how sad I was back then. Other journal pages bristle with an anger that now, almost two decades later, makes me stop reading my own writing.

Reading those pages, it’s hard to miss that one, glaring factor: A suffocating and very meaningless job. The second factor: Except for the occasional scribble on my lunch hour, I wasn’t writing. Slowly but surely, I was killing off my own creativity and, therefore, my joy.

Compared to back then, my current life is good. It’s pretty darn happy. I have a fulfilling day job with smart and decent colleagues. Weekends and early mornings, I get up an hour before work to do what I love best: writing.

So this week, if your work or day job makes you happy, raise your coffee cup in a toast to good work and good colleagues and a boss who deserves you.

But if you suspect that work is a contributing — or the — factor in your sadness, then use this week to list some steps to (a) Find new and different work or (b)Make your current job better.

Why? Because Stephen King said so.



Irish author, workshop leader in Boston area. Fifth book, “Green and Other Essays” just released. More at www.ainegreaney.com

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Aine Greaney

Aine Greaney

Irish author, workshop leader in Boston area. Fifth book, “Green and Other Essays” just released. More at www.ainegreaney.com