How to mark a 500th post? A normal person might host a competition or a giveaway to express their appreciation of their readers and blog followers. One such from the eminent Emma Darwin resulted in my first-ever guest post, on the topic of writer’s block, of which, almost four years on, I’m still immensely proud. But, having failed to plan ahead for today’s illustrious event, and with more than a nip of narcissism in my psyche, I’m stuck with celebrating myself. Look away now if that offends you: there’ll be more reviews next month.
I’m not cheerful because, despite my dictionary’s definition of “having a happy disposition; in good spirits”, cheerful implies looking on the bright side and I’m too loyal to the dull side to be guilty of that. I’m not content – although I’m pretty close – because I nurture ambitions, primarily for my writing, that I’ve not yet fulfilled. I’m not pleased – although I’m fortunate circumstances often make me so – because to me that implies the kind of happy that’s contingent on the kindness of the world I can’t control. You, and/or the dictionary, are free to disagree.
I haven’t always been of a happy disposition. Granted, I’ve had my moments of cheerful contented pleasure along the road from the baby left to cry to the woman I am today. But happiness as a default position has crept up on me in recent months and cannot be denied. While I retain the fragility of my birthright, both the inside of my head and my relationships with the world outside it are in pretty fine fettle these days. Like Muriel Spark’s Jean Brodie, but hopefully without the fascism, I’m in my prime. How could I not be happy?
I’m not sure why I’m telling you this. As this isn’t a particularly personal blog, disclosure feels rather strange. Aside from the superstitious fear of fate responding to my audacious claim by smiting me or my loved ones, I don’t know how to write about it. I don’t want to continue with the information dump or strings of adjectives we are advised to eschew in our creative endeavours. So how do you write happy?
In my fiction, I try to show a character’s emotion not by naming it but by its expression in the body. The sweaty palms, the aching chest, the churning stomach. Outside the sexual sphere, I can’t think of a parallel somatic representation of happy. Smiling doesn’t do it; as I’ve said before, while some people can’t smile, my own smiling reflex takes no account of my feelings. As a recent immigrant to happy land, a lucid description is beyond me, but perhaps one of the natives will explain how it’s done.
Having set your homework, let me refer you to my guest post, if you haven’t already seen it, courtesy of Gulara Vincent, on one of the activities that contributes to my happiness, singing in a mixed-voice choir. With another positive post lined up for my forthcoming blog tour, I’m at risk of morphing into a motivational blogger, or at least carving out a space for posts on well-being on my articles page. (Aargh, by the time you read this it might have already happened.)
Since I don’t expect to post again before the end of the month, here’s a reminder of the seven novels and two non-fiction (as many as two? That’s never happened before) books I’ve highlighted during March. Big thanks to you for reading, however many or few of my 500 posts you’ve read since Annethology began in January 2013. Wishing you satisfying reading and writing until next time.