Happiness and Sorrow

I freely admit it: I like the happy.

Many stories dwell on the conflicts that arise from anger, misery, and hate. Those can be very powerful stories, as they resonate with men and women who have felt those same emotions in their own lives. I enjoy those stories, too, at times.

But I have to be honest. I prefer seeing the light, rather than dwelling in the dark.

Many of my stories deal with the darknesses of the human heart: jealousy, fear, vanity, hubris, and more. My protagonists suffer from them, in the way that I’ve suffered and seen people around me suffer from them. But, while that darkness brings a certain necessary drama to stories, I don’t enjoy dwelling in those dim recesses.

Rodin’s beautiful and frightening _Gates of Hell_ [Public domain]

What I love about writing stories is being able to show readers that the world isn’t always a terrible and frightening place to live. Day to day, we face horrors and terrors…but we also overcome them, with the help and love of friends and family. I’m amazed (and a little saddened) when I see stories that are about only the darkness, only the fear and hatred and angst we encounter – frankly, too much – in our regular daily lives.

I don’t fit in, in this place.

I’ve been denounced for writing characters who are happy, stories that see the good rather than let the evil swell and overcome. But when you see people you love turn gaunt and ghostlike in a hospital bed, or hear a mother screaming for her child, you don’t want to spend your talent poking through those horrors. You want to give meaning to the losses; you want your characters to overcome their trials, and grow and be happy, even if you couldn’t do.

That’s why I like finding the happy when I put on my writer’s or reader’s glasses: I see enough of sorrow when I take them off and look around the regular world.



4 thoughts on “Happiness and Sorrow

  1. I could never understand the people who believe that being “realistic” means to be unhappy and depressed and have not a single shred of joy in their lives. I’m with you on seeing the positives of the trials that people face and having good triumph. Is it so wrong to want to be happy?

    I feel like people who don’t want to see good triumph are the people who weren’t able to break through their own issues. Everyone’s had something horrible happen in their lives, some worse than others, but to be able to overcome that issue is what makes it so worthwhile.

    Great post! I think we all could use a little hope and happiness in our lives.


  2. I like the happy, too. I definitely find it more meaningful after I see the character’s pain in whatever form that might be. I don’t necessarily need a sloppy-happy ending, but I can’t handle an ending where the hero loses it all.


    • Thanks, Kate!
      I agree that the ending doesn’t have to be the happily-ever-after kind (or the sort I used to see in those old Shaw Bros. movies: “We beat the bad guy! Yay!” [roll credits] – I always ended up going, “What happened to the rest of the story?!”), but I do like some resolution. Happy endings, for me, don’t necessarily mean that everyone gets what they want, either. So long as the characters grow out of their experiences. 🙂


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