Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Happily Ever After

Last night I watched a Hallmark movie called the Art of Us. Usually Hallmark movies have a set formula with some minor variation. The couple meets, then there is a misunderstanding or conflict that keeps them apart until they finally get together in the end. But this movie was a little different. The couple met at the beginning and they pretty much liked each other the entire time. They had collaborated on a little white lie that kept growing as the movie went on. Eventually the truth came out, but the couple never really had an argument or a period of separation. They worked through the problem together.

It was a nice change from the prefabricated conflicts that exist in most of the Hallmark movies, but I have to admit that about halfway through the movie I started to get a little bored. Not because I was longing for the couple to have a fight. That is usually my least favorite part of the movie. It was mostly because there was not enough of a plot line to support the characters. Or maybe it is just not that interesting to sit around and watch people be happy together for two hours.

Over the weekend I was also reading some of my older blogs and I had a similar thought. My old blogs were filled with angst, confusion and conflict. They were filled with my misadventures and mishaps. I was always searching for something. And often I was looking in all the wrong places! And they were also funny. Reading through some of my blogs had me laughing out loud. I used to have such a strong voice. And now my voice is softer and more muted.

I have a pretty good sense of when things changed in my writing. The change came in two waves. First, when I got sick in 2013 my voice changed from confidence to vulnerability. I felt so lost and scared. And I was not sure how I was going to find my way back, or if I even wanted to go back to what I was before I got sick. The next wave happened in 2015 when I started my yoga teacher training. I was still in transition in my life and I was still searching for my true self. But at least I felt like I was on the right path.

When I started writing my blog, I was unhappy in my job and my relationships. Those were the two topics I wrote about most often. Now I am living a completely different life. I love my job as a freelance writer and I am in love with Mark Johnson. Of course, my life is not perfect. I sometimes struggle with my health issues or figuring out how to earn enough money from my writing to be able to make it a permanent lifestyle. But for the most part I am content with my life.

In that sense, my life is kind of like that Hallmark movie. It is a wonderful story to be living, but it is probably not that exiting to watch. I have always used my blog as a way to process things that are going on in my life. Writing helps me to see patterns, understand my motivations, share my experiences and sometimes to put things in the past where they belong. When my life is happy, there is not really a need for me to do any of those things.

It makes me wonder if writing is a welcome diversion for tortured souls. There are many examples of authors who did their best work when they were angry, depressed or drunk. Of course, not all writers are that way. In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert spends a lot of time debunking the idea that we have to experience suffering in order to truly express our art. She tells us that we can let our creativity flow and still feel happy, balanced and free. And that is what I want to believe too.

But as I read through my blogs, I can't deny the change that has happened. My Mom often tells me that my voice has changed and she misses the old version of me. Sometimes I miss that voice too. She was bold and brash. She was confident, funny and smart. She knew exactly what she wanted to say and never considered the possibility that she might be wrong. She was definitely someone you could watch or listen to for two hours without getting bored. But that version of me was never happy. Not like I am today.

I have to wonder if my happily ever after has left me with a shortage of material. In a way, it is a good problem to have. I would much rather be happy in my real life, even it means that I have less to write about. I am not sure what that means for my blog. Or what is next for my writing in general.

Now that I have found my happily ever after, maybe it is time to start writing other people's stories. I have always wanted to write a screenplay for a Hallmark movie and that is something I still think about. I have so many notes for characters and plot lines that it is hard to know where to begin. I guess it is better to have too much material than not enough.

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