Did it February where you are?

Because it seems not to have Februaried on this blog. Hm. Extraordinary.

I’m not really here. Or more accurately: I am here but briefly, giving myself a break from writing. As if blogging weren’t writing.

I hit my Jan. 31st deadline hard, with a hammer, and then I was tired. I rested for a couple-or-three weeks, until my editor started slipping me revisions again. They’re GOOD revisions, and I can’t underscore what a relief that is. However, that means I am in the throes of work again, at least until early May.

I have precious little extra brainspace for blogging right now. However, be not dismayed! I am working, and working HAPPILY, which is pretty much the most wonderful news I could possibly have.

The real reason I’m popping in today is because I ran across two blog posts recently that struck me as important: Myra McEntire’s The Shame of Depression, and Libba Bray’s Miles and Miles of No-Man’s Land. Both are about writers dealing with depression (as you might have gleaned from the first title, at least), and they are honest, heartfelt, and powerful.

I went through a depression writing this sequel. I’d love to say, “But now I’m over it, forever and ever, ta-DAA!” but depression teaches you not to make those kinds of grandiose promises. There’s always the chance it’s going to pop back up, like a horror movie villain, no matter how thoroughly you stabbed it in the chest. I think I can safely say, “I’m doing very well, I find joy in writing again, and may the beast stay in remission, touch wood.”

I’m seeing depressed writers everywhere – on Twitter, on blogs, through the grapevine. I don’t know whether some critical mass has been reached, where people finally feel safe admitting it, or if I’m attuned to it because of my own experience, or if now is a particularly stressful time to be a writer. Maybe it’s all three, in varying degrees. But I hope these writers are seeing it too, and taking some comfort in the not-aloneness. I wish I could reach through the computer and give everyone a hug.

For me, depression didn’t manifest as sadness so much as incapacity. I felt incapable. Stupid. Muted. I was half convinced I had early-onset Alzheimer’s, or perhaps, like Charlie in Flowers for Algernon, I was waning into dullness after a flash of false brilliance. What ability I’d possessed had clearly been ephemeral.

My advice is to be as honest as you can about it, with everyone you love and work with. People care about you; it’s ok to let them. It’s ok to take the time you need to take care of yourself.

My favourite quote from Bray’s post is, “I would argue that artistic expression is not a symptom of depression so much as a response to it.  I see writing as an act of resistance against an occupying enemy who means to kill me.” If you can write, do it. There was a while where I couldn’t, however, where writing WAS the source of stress, but it was still art that helped dig me out of that hole. I joined a second choir and sang my way out. If writing is too hard right now, don’t panic. It won’t always be. There may be some other art form that suits you better these days, something no one’s demanding you be good at.

All right, speaking of writing, I’d better get back to it. I’m EAGER to get back to it. When will you see me again? Who knows? It’ll be a nice surprise.

7 thoughts on “Did it February where you are?

  1. So I was just clicking around and reading stuff in here, and suddenly the side panel said there was something in March, and I’m sure that wasn’t there before. O.O Anyway, yeah, writing’s hard. I know I’m not one to talk; I’m still in college. But I can completely understand that whole depression thing. About a year back, I sat down to write and stared at the screen for an hour before I gave up. For probably about half a year, I felt like anything I would never be able to write again, that my ability to write just flew out the window. Fortunately, I’m beginning to write again, and turns out I still have some ideas in my brain. I’ve got some good friends who helped me out a little too.
    Anyway, all that to say, it’s good that you’re back and enjoying your work again. Your writing is great, and writers should always get to love what they do. Good luck in your writing!

  2. I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better. I’ve also been feeling un-moored for about a year and a half and have just about decided that writing something might be the answer. Focusing on something, even if it never turns into anything good, would be better than drifting. It’s nice to have that urge reinforced by your advice.

  3. It didn’t February at ALL here in Michigan, it was too damned busy Januarying all over the joint for a solid two months. In fact, it’s STILL Januarying hereabouts, with highs in the teens and lows subzero earlier this week. BRRRR!

  4. I’m guessing that it is very hard to be a writer and not go through some patch of depression. The nature of a writer tends to be a sensitive one, as we open ourselves to others, (fictional or real characters) and in a sense, join them, so that we can understand how they might feel or react. Writers sometimes take on the emotion, or mindset of a character in order to better portray them and their story. The difficulty is that you are now responsible for that person’s pain and/or problems. You can also feel detached or isolated from the world because you are almost literally torn between an imaginative reality and the “real world”. It leaves the writer vulnerable. Both a blessing and a curse.

  5. Well at least you’re not stuck in a snowed-in lodge repeatedly typing “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Glad to hear that you have departed the town of Depression and are writing once more. But now I’m depressed at hearing that Shadow Scale won’t appear until 2015! What am I supposed to read in the meantime? I’ve been reading, but few of your peers can match the love of language and writing skill in your story-telling. Most writers use language as if they are driving their plot and character around in a rusty 1979 Toyota Corolla with beach towels on the seats whereas you convey your readers in an meticulously-constructed new Bentley. In an era where journalists will write “flair” when they should be using “flare” and couldn’t care less that they have omitted an article before a noun, you are truly a fine wine in a world of Ripple. Okay, now that I’ve complimented you enough will you please finish SS in the next couple of months? Daenerys Targaryen is a pretty cool substitute but she is no Seraphina!

  6. I think you’re brilliant. Take all the time you need. I’ve never met you but you deserve an electronic hug. Unfortunately, I am terrible at those (real hugs are better ) so I hope someone near and dear hugs you whenever you need one. *insert witty ending of your choosing*

    P.S. thank you. What you do matters. 🙂

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