I was struck by a brief exchange in Ann Lamott’s episode of The Midnight Gospel, which quickly dispels the myth of the tortured artist.
“I felt terror that if I stopped drinking, I would never write again,” Lamott muses. “Because I needed the misery. Because I needed that edge. And I needed the shame and I needed the raging sick ego. And I felt that without those, I wouldn’t be sufficiently crazy enough to even be funny anymore. But that’s one of the lies of the disease and of the ego, that if you’re well, if you’re happy, the jig’s up.”
“This is one of the really cool things about Christianity,” Duncan Trussel responds. “You get to use the word ‘Satan.’ And I can’t think of anything truly more satanic than that thought, a force in the universe telling you that should you become happy and healthy, then the thing you love doing the most will suck.”
As Andrew Sean Greer says in the the novel, Less: “Just for the record: happiness is not bullshit.”