Good health

The contemptible smallness, the mediocrity of my work, the disorder of my days, these are the things that make it, to say the least, difficult for me to get up in the morning. When I talk with people, when I ride on trains, life seems to have some apparent, surface goodness that does not need questioning. When I spend six or seven hours a day at my typewriter, when I try to sleep off a hangover in a broken armchair, I end by questioning everything, beginning with myself. I reach insupportably morbid conclusions, I wish half the time to die. I must achieve some equilibrium between writing and living. It must not continue to be self-destructive. When I wake in the morning I say to myself I must hit harder, I must do better, I must at least leave a respectable and enlightening record for my children, but an hour later when I sit at my typewriter I lose myself in a haze of regrets and write a page or two about Aaron sitting alone in a room, feeling the walls of his soul collapse. I must bring to my work, and it must give to me, the legitimate sense of well-being that I enjoy when the weather is good and I have had plenty of sleep. Good health is instinctive with me and it can be with literature.

John Cheever, journals, 1952

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