Thursday, May 5, 2011

Writing in a Fit of Depression

   Depression sets in.  The stark reality of knowing the grim truth.

Buddy, you're just another cog in a machine containing billions of cogs.  You write noir/hardboiled.  Others write noir/hardboiled.  Millions of'em.  Maybe billions.  And they're all like you, Pookie.  Like you, they think they're the greatest thing since sliced-bread.  Chocolate covering caramel. A cold glass of beer on a hot summer's day.

Isn't it true?  If you're a writer you have to believe, deep down, that you're the best damn writer to come along since Raymond Chandler or John D. McDonald.  If you don't have that kind of ego, darlin', you're not going to last long.  Like leaves on the trees of summer, if you don't have that belief in yourself you're going to dry up and blow away when winter comes.

And, brother,  winter comes often in the writing game.

The competition to be seen and recognized is a set of odds stacked up to be phenomenally against you. You soon realize that it's not talent that wins out in this business.  It's luck.  Mindless, random, stupid . . . luck.

And when you finally come to this conclusion, that's when the depression sets in.  A morass of black fuming invectives and deep pits of bubbling anger barely kept in check.  Or not kept in check, depending on how strong you are in controlling your emotions.  A sense of pointlessness overwhelms you.  You keep asking yourself over and over again, "Why keep doing this shit?  Why beat myself up on something that no one . . NO ONE . . . is ever going to read?"

Welcome, brother or sister, to the Brotherhood of The Writer.  You are now a charter member.

So how do you get out of the slime pit of pitying yourself?  How do you shake off the depression and get back to an even keel?  What's the secret, Merlin, in finding the light again?  The Answer?  

From within yourself.

Nothing external is going to help you.  It's got to come from inside your creative soul to pull you out of your doldrums.  It's a far easier  effort if you have a well-developed, warped sense of humor.  Humor . . . laughter . . . may be the greatest penicillin for depression ever invented.  If you can laugh at yourself, first and foremost, and then at the world in general--well then, you're going to be okay.  Yeah, there will be bad days.  But with that sense of humor of yours, you're gonna get through it.

But what if you haven't got a humorous bone in your body?  What then, Pookie?

Ask yourself two questions:  And answer them with brutal honesty.

  1.  Do you write because, deep down, you want to be rich and famous?


  2.  Do you write because there are stories in you  . . . characters in you . . . who demand to be heard.

The answer to getting over your depression rests in which question is your driving force for the writing you do.  So, I guess, I can't help you anymore.  I wish I could offer more suggestions.  But I can't. You have to decide for yourself.

Good luck, kid.  I'm pulling for you.

1 comment:

  1. That's what it all comes down to--intent. What's the reason you write and what's your desired outcome? Of course, we are all elated with acceptances and momentarily crushed by rejections, yet we keep on writing. I know for me, I'd be lying if I said I'd turn down fame and fortune, but that's not why I do it. If it never comes (I'm pretty sure that's a guarantee actually), I'll still be sitting at the keyboard, carrying around a notebook and a pen, plotting and planning. I love it. I really do. I love who and what I create. Always have.