Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Erotic Housewife Checks IN: The Depression of a Writer





“You cannot be a good writer of serious fiction if you are not depressed.” ~Kurt Vonnegut Jr

We all know the old stereotypes of the tortured artist, the alcoholic writer. They play into the belief that artistic creative types seem to be more depressed or are more susceptible to mental illness than the average person.
Those old stereotypes may not have been too far off from many famous authors, poets and painters. When you think of Hemingway, Poe, Keats, Proust and Van Gogh, you don’t always think of their genius. More often than not you also think about their lives and how each one obviously suffered from some mental illness or depression. it almost makes depression seem glamorous, yet it isn’t glamorous to the person that suffers from it.
I know from experience.
I am not ashamed say that on occasion I suffer from depression. Okay…more often than that. It is something that has plagued me for quite a long time. As long as I can remember, I never understood it. When I was a teenager I would use my depressed state and write some of the best stories and poetry. It would be my muse. That bred the idea that my muse had to be depressed as well.

“Writing is one of the top ten professions in which people are most likely to suffer from depression, with men particularly at risk from the illness” ~ health.com.

They say that writing is a solitary profession and begs for a dedicated writer to be alone most of the time. Being alone gives the writer more focus. Being alone can also be a breeding ground for depression in a writer or anyone.  I spent a lot of time alone and more often than not, that led to negative thoughts penetrating my concentration and almost caused me to give up writing.

“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.” ~Edgar Allan Poe

Growing up Edgar Allan Poe was a poet and writer that I could relate to. Not just because of his style. It was because he was so dark and gloomy. His depression seeped through the pages of his stories and leaked into mine. I knew his torment and I knew his pain. I experienced the intense loneliness in a packed household and I knew how that affected me. Those stints of depression are fewer now but can still have the same debilitating affect on me.

 "Almost every writer I know goes through the same reaction after a novel is finished – there are 24 hours of euphoria and then all the negative thoughts you have shut out while finishing it come out, and either you get drunk or depressed or get the flu.” ~Simon Brett

I know that right after I finish a novel or short story, I go from the relief and excitement that comes from completing the novel to a deep depression. This depression always comes from the negative thoughts that plague me like: Will people like my book? Will I get a ton of negative reviews? Will it even get published?
Nothing is worse than thinking the novel that you just spent the better part of a year working on is hated by all. Forget sells…I just hope people will read it and love it the way that I do.
Sometimes my depression gets so bad that I cannot write. The guilt for not being able to be creative or to produce makes me more depressed.
I know that it confuses my family. They don’t understand how I can get so depressed once the book is finished. They assume that I would be very happy about finishing a novel that has stressed me for months.

“So writers are prone to depression, which shouldn't surprise anyone. What should surprise even writers is the affection we have for depression...the belief that being miserable gives us some mystical insight into creativity, and that if we weren't depressed, we either could not write, or we could write only Pollyannaish drivel.” ~www.elizabethmoon.com

This I believe has caused me to stay in my depressions longer or do nothing to help them.  I always felt that my pessimism and my melancholy was the basis of my creativity and so to get rid of that would mean the end of my writing career which was one of the few things that actually brought me joy. 
Though I am still working through my depression episode and look at past writers that have not overcome and hope that there is hope for me.



17 comments:

  1. I really like your honesty in this post. Plus bringing in quotes from the other writers really made the idea hit home.
    I really look forward to reading your blog during this challenge and getting to know your writer within.

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  2. I can certainly sympathize with your observation about writers and being alone. But I've found that finding groups of writers to talk to makes a big difference for me.

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    1. I agree. That is why since my move from Indiana to California I have searched for other writers. Thank you.

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  3. A very poignant piece of writing.
    I had the same euphoria when I completed my first full length novel, and after about 24 hours I nose dived into an abyss. Now, I think it was due to the subconscious realizing I really had only just begun.

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    1. It seems after completing a novel there is some kind of down or low point for writers. Thank you.

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  4. This made me think of a lot of things, like Hunter S. Thompson, and musicians who are afraid to stop drinking because they're afraid they'll lose their creative muse if they do. Having had chronic, clinical (read life-threatening) depression for the last 16 years, I can relate. But I only started writing regularly after it was under control, and during the low times, I don't want to do anything, including write. I hope things get better for you.

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    1. Thank you and I am glad things have gotten better for you.

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  5. Donnee, you gave me something to think about, for sure. Seems to me it's about loss. Once a writer's novel is done, he or she has nothing to work on. So, it's a loss of the project and the process and identity. The writer may be experiencing grief. Just my take.

    Thanks for sharing and as Joan said, presenting such open and honest feelings and thoughts.

    xoA

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    1. Thank you. I think you make a great point. It does feel like loss. I know I spend so much time with the characters in my head and once my novel is written it seems as if they have left me. Thank you for your input.

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  6. Very well written and I really appreciate that you were willing to get so introspective on this. I think depression or the appreciation of depression really is a writer's "thing," a writer's trap maybe. Very interesting post...lots to think about.

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  7. Donnee, I have also danced with the evil seductress called Depression. I know far more about it than I ever wished to learn. Thanks to proper meds and support I do pretty well. Thanks for the courage to share this part of your life...it makes it easier for others to share.
    You are a good writer and I have enjoyed reading some of your posts.
    Now mark the 3rd Saturday for WOK, and you can see some of the people responding on the page.
    Yes, the blog challenge has ignited a lot of us, me in particular. TR

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    1. Thank you so much. Depression is definitely an evil seductress. It is a struggle everyday.

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  8. I talk to one of my close writer friends about writing and depression all of the time and your post really hits the nail on the head of what we are always describing. I liked that you included those quotes and how you described the writer's link to depression as well.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

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    1. Thank you! I just hope that my post shows other writers that they are not alone.

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  9. There are two sides to every coin, for the yin there must be yang for balance. If my lows are balanced by highs, I am balanced, satisfied, at peace. Writing is cathartic, it can pull up or down. For me it always brings satisfaction, if I let the creative juices flow.

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