Saturday, January 18, 2014

Depression and the Writer

I struggle with depression.  This is not some bold pronouncement, indicative of some breakthrough on my part.  It is but a simple fact.  I'm a writer, and as a whole writers seem prone to depression.  Maybe it's a side effect of the unique brain chemistry that allows us to happily spend most of our waking hours alone with our own thoughts, watching the endless drama of character and conflict unfold in the theater of the mind.  Maybe it's part of the cushion that allows us to hold a dozen different conversations in our minds, with utter strangers we've conjured from our imaginations, without going insane.  Maybe depression is the outward expression of our craft, like the printer's ink-stained fingers or the smell of linseed oil that clings to painters.

Whatever its genesis, I struggle with it.  I have good days and bad, days when I feel normal and days when I feel like poor Dr. Jekyll, the monstrous Mr. Hyde lurking just under his skin.  My depression presents itself as lethargy, punctuated by long periods of brutal (and ultimately dishonest) introspection whereupon my sub-conscious expounds on its favorite topic: "1001 Reasons Why Scott Oden Sucks as a Writer."  It is Resistance at its most powerful and insidious . . .

And so, we fight, my depression and I.  It's pankration without the slenderest of rules.  We gouge and bite and throw elbows and try to beat each others heads in with rocks, with the goal being my desk and the work upon it.  I always win through, but some days I can only curl up and protect my vitals while that bastard kicks the shit out of me, then crawl to me chair while he gets his second wind.  Once I get my fingers on the keyboard I know I'm safe for a couple of hours, at least.

That's where I'm at, now.  Bloodied and bruised and feeling low, but with my hands stroking the keys -- making words from letters and sentences from words.  So screw you, depression!  You useless fucking toad!  What I write today may reek to high heaven, but you can't stop me from writing it!  Not today!

Words needed: approx. 100,000
Words written, to date: 36,660 (I edited some of what I wrote before the ill-fated Holiday Plague of 2013, trimming back a bit of useless verbiage)

5 comments:

Tom Doolan said...

Take no prisoners!

Keith West said...

Onward! Depression fights so hard because it knows how good a writer you are. If you really sucked as a writer, depression wouldn't expend so much effort. Kick it in the nuts, spit in its eye, and keep typing.

Damien X Nortier said...

When you think of yourself as sucking in writing, remember the following : I'm a French dude and I came to your books through a French translation of the Lion of Cairo. I found it so strongly evocative and so epic that I starved at the sequel. I reached upon the Publisher to ask him if anything was supposed to be translated from your works but he said it was not scheduled yet. So I went to the international bookshop and bought Memnon. Usually, I cannot seem to finish books in their original language (and I'm even speaking of RE Howard or HP Lovecraft and friends here). But not with yours : the Muse is whispering in your ear for sure. Oh, and my reputation among the many readers of my friends is to be a very demanding one...

Charles Gramlich said...

when I am fighting it, I seem so often to just be "going through the motions." But I generally find the writing that I do then is not as bad as I feared it was, and generally salvagable. Sometimes it turns out to be actually pretty interesting.

samuel Jaya said...

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Fraternal greetings from our.

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