Creator Recovery

We're all familiar with what happens when a writer's personal problems start to intrude upon their work - characters are killed off left and right, plots are resolved either in a depressing fashion or not at all and the worldview espoused by the work as a whole seems much bleaker than it was before.

But what happens when the opposite happens? Whether by dint of marriage, the birth of a child, the author finding religion or some other cause, the author now finds themselves in a much happier place than they were before. And, hardly unexpectedly, this starts to bleed into their work, which becomes Lighter and Softer and much more optimistic.

Just as Creator Breakdown isn't necessarily a bad thing from an artistic standpoint (many artists produce their best work while feeling down in the dumps), this trope isn't necessarily a good thing either: feeling happy and self-satisfied can often lead to an artist becoming complacent and unwilling to push themselves creatively. On the other hand, a sunnier disposition may result in an author cutting down on the Wangst and producing something more accessible.

This is the Opposite Trope to Creator Breakdown and, just as with that trope, Word of God examples are required for it to qualify.

See also Tone Shift, Lighter and Softer, Darker and Edgier and True Art Is Angsty.


Anime & Manga

Comic Books
  • Alan Moore has admitted that he was going through a period of depression and disillusionment when he wrote Watchmen, but he eventually got over it. Almost all of his major works after Watchmen (with the exception of From Hell) have been more optimistic and light-hearted than that one.
  • Cathy Lee Guisewite, creator of comic strip Cathy, often jokes that her boss at the syndicate dreaded the day she entered a stable relationship and became a more secure, confident person. When just that happened, Guisewite chose to end Cathy rather than let it fall victim to this trope.
  • Sophie Campbell, creator of Wet Moon and Shadoweyes, fell into a funk around 2011, after the strain of being a closeted trans woman became more than she could bear. Since coming out as trans, she's made a recovery, and is now being hailed for her work on the Jem and the Holograms series.

  • When Harry Met Sally: Rob Reiner got the idea for the film after a divorce and a string of complicated relationships before then. He met his next wife while developing the film, and their marriage inspired him to change the ending so Harry and Sally do get together after all.

  • David Drake is a good example: his fiction after Redliners is less harsh and more optimistic, with a little more faith in humanity. Author's comments.
  • The tone of Anne Rice's fiction became significantly more positive when she converted to Christianity, as she herself acknowledged:
    “My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me.
  • Sadly averted by Douglas Adams, who stated that he was going through a rough patch when writing the fifth The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy book and set out to write a sixth to correct the last one's Downer Ending. Unfortunately, he suffered an Author Existence Failure before it could be completed. A sixth Hitchhiker book was later written by Eoin Colfer, to mixed reviews.

  • Barry McGuire is best known for his depressingly cynical song, "Eve of Destruction". His best known post-spiritual-conversion song is "Cosmic Cowboy", an optimistic song with Jesus in the title role.
  • Pet Shop Boys' album Very was more upbeat and exuberant than their prior albums, owing to singer/lyricist Neil Tennant being in love at the time. It is sometimes referred to as their "coming-out" album, as Tennant had begun openly discussing his homosexuality for the first time during this period.
  • Billy Joel's very upbeat and poppy An Innocent Man, a tribute to Joel's musical influences from The Sixties, followed the cynical, sociopolitically charged The Nylon Curtain. While TNC was recorded during Billy's divorce from his first wife, AIM was a product of then-single Billy enjoying life as a bachelor and dating a number of supermodels, most notably his future second wife Christie Brinkley.
  • Starflyer 59's album Gold was written and recorded while Jason Martin was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, due to the messy ends of several friendships and the stress of recording the album practically by himself. For the followup album, Americana, Jason Martin had a full band playing with him and producer Gene Eugene to help with the duties of recording, so it was a much more "fun" rock album. It's probably not a coincidence that Jason switched to playing New Wave music and almost entirely abandoned guitar distortion shortly afterwards.
  • With Teeth, the fifth major release by Nine Inch Nails (following the intensely bleak The Downward Spiral and The Fragile), could quite justifiably be considered this for Trent Reznor, who indeed admitted in an interview around the time of the album's release that he has been "pretty happy." Reinforcing this is the fact that Trent surprised many fans by returning from his hiatus quite ripped, and that he would end up getting married (to Mariqueen Maandig, with whom he now creates music in How To Destroy Angels) four years later.
  • The quality of Ozzy Osbourne's albums are closely tied to his own happiness in the period they were made. Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman were the first time in years that he was having fun doing music, while No More Tears was made when Ozzy was finally able to move past the controversy and personal strife he experienced in the 1980s.

Newspaper Columns
  • Charlie Brooker, as indicated in the page image, stopped writing "Screen Burn" around the time that he got married to Konnie Huq, realising that it would fall into this trope on account of him no longer being countercultural and miserable, and saying the writer to take over was a better fit for it now as she was "pure hate". He carried on writing opinion pieces, but even in those he remarked in that the tone of his work got a lot lighter as his life improved and he just couldn't work up the level of hatred required any more - even realising around the time he had a kid that he had Become His Own Antithesis as being an avowed Child Hater is a constant theme of his work. On the other hand, he did announce his new fatherhood in a gushy column about how much he loved babies preceded with a paragraph explaining he was doing it entirely to make his fans angry, so he's not all nice.

  • Tom Baker's performance as the Doctor in the Big Finish Doctor Who Fourth Doctor Adventures, which he started doing in the 2010s, is notably a lot softer and more considerate than his often selfish and stormy portrayal in the 1970s. Forty years in which to mature, decades in a happy and stable marriage, and getting his drinking under control had mellowed him out a lot, and since his Doctor was always heavily based on himself, so the Doctor mellowed out too. He also made up with Leela actress Louise Jameson (who he used to bully in the 70s), and his audio performance is warmer towards her, letting her have Character Focus and not stepping on her lines like he used to do on television. Fan reactions were mixed, with a lot of people missing the unhinged, dangerous craziness of his 70s portrayal or feeling the new performance is Out Of Character, but many others appreciating the new, gentle take on the character as a side to the Fourth Doctor we didn't get to see back in the day yet still is unmistakably him.

Stand-Up Comedy
  • In 1979, Richard Pryor went on a trip to Africa, and was so moved by the solidarity of the people there that he renounced his legendary N-Word Privileges. As he explained in his 1982 comedy special Live at the Sunset Strip:
    Richard: I asked myself "Do you see any niggers?", and I said "No, because there aren't any..."

Video Games
  • A small time game developer, Scott Cawthorn was going through some rough times: his latest game, Chipper and Sons Lumber Co., was harshly reviewed, which sent him into a depression. Furthermore, his latest crowdfunding campaign for a new game raised a grand total of zero dollars. As a result, he decided to try one last time at making a video game before quitting the industry for good. That videogame drew in millions of people, hooking them with a simple, yet effective story: a security guard at a local pizzeria, with the only companions being the killer animatronics. The fans loved it, the reviewers loved it, and Scott's gamemaking career rose to indie stardom.