On Writing and Dealing With Depression

I'm a writer.

Because I'm a writer, I see the world from a perspective of someone who sees all the layers.  There are layers behind all the surface information we receive every day.  I'm always looking at where things originate.  What is underneath the motivation for that political policy?  Why does the meat look different at McDonald's versus Five Guys?

Because I tend to look deeply at my world, find stories everywhere, obsess over relationships and personality quirks because they will one day make it into one of my books, I have developed an outlook on the world that looks beyond the surface level at darn near everything.  

I probably suffer from periodic depression even though I have not been diagnosed by a professional.  It affects my day-to-day writing life considerably.

I write entire paragraphs or lines of dialogue in a screenplay and then erase the entire thing out of fear.  I listen to criticism though, making myself better at what I do, and that's healthy.  But I obsess over the details like H.P. Lovecraft scribbling through most of the sentences in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and then refusing to send it to a publisher.  My workspace is a mess.

I sell a minor amount of books.  I check the sales every day only to find them blank or maybe a few purchases happen month to month.  I trudge away at a day job that is emotionally rewarding but is the whipping boy of our state government and because of the meager retirement will never allow me to leave.

I tell my students they'll come back to visit me one day and find me tottering toward my desk behind a walker.

So how do I find positivity?  How do I rise above all of this depression?

I suppose, as a Christian, I could say I "turn it all over to God" or some cliche thing like that.  I do, and I have faith, but the nagging question still arises in my mind like Thomas to the other disciples.  Like Thomas, I often have to see the nail scars in the hands of the reality of my world, to find the more positive aspects of my life as a writer.

This doubt raises questions like: "Is this really worth it?" or "What does this matter anyway?" or "Shouldn't you be looking for a better job?"

I have to stop and consider that I have a great family, four wonderful kids, a wife who loves me enough to let me have my jaunts to the local university library for research and a "quiet place to write.  I'm able to pay my bills.  I'm not suffering from any disease and everyone is healthy.  

But still that depression nags at me, so here is how I beat it: 

I pour myself into the writing project I'm working on at the moment.  I spend countless hours designing character sketches.  I go to a local newspaper to tour it and talk to the reporters and editor for research.  I pick the brain of an airfield manager to find out that I've probably painted myself into a corner with the idea of some secret dossier being buried on an airfield tarmac.

I write.  I write.  I write.  

The writing takes the form of setting notes, background histories, character sketches, character arcs, thematic threads, and finally a screenplay or a novel.  

I throw myself into the business of writing which takes one form on this blog.  It becomes an article on Medium, another character bio, a day of research, or a bunch of maddening poetry in a journal.  

So if you are a depressed writer, someone who either has never published, keeps getting rejection notices, a writer doesn't feel "noticed" even though you are working hard, just keep writing.  You may never ever ever make it big, but you'll contribute something to the world and at least dance in the streets of your own devising, create awesome characters, and leave a huge footprint on the world of words.


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