Recalibrating Priorities – A Depressed Writer’s Journey

 

Am I a bird on acid?

 

The past six months or so I’ve been bogged down in my own self-recriminating, self-hating, swamp mire because my dream of being a successful writer seemed a pipe dream. In the past few weeks I’ve discovered myself doing anything and everything to avoid even getting on my laptop and opening a MS and trying to write. Most days I feel like I’m riding a see-saw on acid, bouncing wildly up and down the emotional scale with the speed of the well know Road Runner of Looney Tunes fame. Of course the end result most days leaves me feeling like poor old Wile E. Coyote.

I’ve lost my way–of that I have no doubt–and am desperately trying to get my sorry ass out of the shadowy woods and back on that lovely road edged with bright lights. The journey has not turned out to be what I imagined and there are days that devil on my shoulder seems to be winning just like that damn Road Runner.

 

A desperate genius?

Self-pity never got anyone anywhere? As a matter of fact it buries a creative soul quicker than anything. There is no doubt in my mind at this point my friends are tired of the never ending pity concerto I’ve composed about my craptastic attempts to write. 😦

 

So, a week ago I decided I needed to recalibrate my priorities. I’ve known for a number of years I’ve suffered from depression. For a great deal of that time I tried to hide it from my friends and family; not that the attempt worked. Most of them saw right through the BS with an ease of mind that would put a psychiatrist to shame. Over the summer one particular friend encouraged me to get out of the apartment and enjoy life more than I had in years. I recently thanked her for the best summer ever on that front.

 

 

My next step was to have a classic old west showdown with my imagination. You see for years I’ve used my computer as a notebook of sorts. My HD clogged with numerous story tidbits and even half-finished stories. So with a deep breath I sat down and faced the

One stubborn writer!

enemy, booted up the laptop, and tightened my grip on the good old DELETE button. For a moment I thought I would lose the showdown; mountain of files piled as high as the Himalayas. For those who think I jest–I swear I saw the Yeti peering from the screen at me from behind a cluster of files.

 

Fingering the delete button I eyeballed the plot bunny clutter of years, palms itching, and had that damned showdown. The Yeti was having none of it. He bounced from one file to another beady red eyes peering at me and tiny razor sharp teeth ready to take a chunk out of the first finger daring to poke at the delete button. I dared though and I have the teeth marks to prove it on my fingers.

Despite his best attempts I won the war on that one. Okay, maybe not the war, but at least a small battle and I’m arming myself for another one when I finish this damn post. I can hear the vicious lil’ furball right now sharping his teeth for round two.

 

Vicious lil' furball...

The point of this ramble (yes I do have a point) is if I ever expect to get anywhere as a writer I cannot give in to the depression or let that evil lil’ Yeti chew my fingers off. I need to take control of my life or at least convince myself I’m in control. After all control is an illusion and my illusion vaporized as if it were a ghost being hit by a proton beam. *sighs*

 

Now I’m in the process of taking control of the proton pack and recalibrating it to be a weapon for me rather than against me. My illusion is back although it resembles heatwaves off a desert highway. I imagine if given more time and few more battles it will be in HD and clear as church bell ringing on Sunday. Maybe it won’t be a easy battle, but after all war is hell–right?

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7 comments on “Recalibrating Priorities – A Depressed Writer’s Journey

    • Aleksander –

      Thank you so much for sharing this with me. This speech not only made perfect sense, but brought the relief to me I believe I needed. Once I told a friend of mine my muse did what he liked and I could only control myself. She looked at me as if I were insane. Now I know I’m not nuts, but rather I have a genius or daemon lurking in the corner of the room.

      Ole to me!

  1. Jess,

    Everybody has a blockage at some point. Usually what I tell people is that they should go out and experience something. It could be fantastic, it could be comparatively minute. But relish in the awesomeness of experience, and then bring that back to your manuscript. If you have nothing inside you, there will be nothing to draw from, and so your life should be full of wide and varied experiences….

    Or, at least, that’s what’s always worked for me.

    };)
    DON LUIS

  2. Thank you Aleksandr for posting that Ted Talk. It was what I needed to see today. I recently completed a novel and I had that experience that she talks about of working in flow and feeling as though it was being whispered by a muse outside me. It was the first time I’ve really had this kind of experience, and it was spiritual. I have gotten very good feedback on it. My agent says it is lovely and she really likes it, and for a short time I felt accomplished in this. But she is now calling it “inherently uncommercial” and making me feel that there is very little chance of it selling “in today’s market.” So I am wanting to shout out to my muse, “I did my part. If you want people to read your story, go whisper in some publisher’s ear!”

    It is a depressing and anxious state to feel like maybe you managed to accomplish what you’d hoped with your writing and it doesn’t matter anyway. Interesting to note that if you do have a big success, like Eat, Pray, Love you just get to replace that with the anxiety that you won’t have similar success again.

    I would like to find a transcript of this talk, because I was touched by the part in it about the dancer waking up to find himself just a dancer again.

    • There are publishers even for the uncommercial stuff. It might not make us rich, but I believe in getting books out any way I can to touch the one or two readers for whom that book or story might be exactly what they need to pick them up and say “fuck, yes”, to life and going on, to tackling whatever they have to tackle in their lives. I’d like to be rich and famous, of course, but honestly, if a book happens like that, it can be enough to just get it out there, by any means necessary. (Harry Potter, small publisher – it worked. It’s like getting struck by lightning, I guess, but some people are struck by lightning every year. 🙂 ).

      Good luck!

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