The Pit

Creativity eludes me. That’s the worst part of this depression. I can write—obviously. And I have a a job where I have to write regularly. It’s not so much that I can’t write, it’s the fiction that’s acting evasive. I’m having trouble tapping into that reserve of stories. Even worse, I can see the story, hear my characters, know what to write, but when I actually try writing, I feel not a wall but a pit. I’m sinking and I can see the story get further away from me until its just a small point in the distance. I drown in the inability to find the words to tell the tales my characters are waiting for.
This might be the reason I started treatment for depression. I hate that I haven’t been able to get to that place, where something comes from nothing and blank space becomes a world. That act of creation is what writers live for. It’s probably the closest feeling to being God. Where there was emptiness, there is now living beings, each with their own histories and futures, in their own worlds. And we push them along and wait to see how they dictate our own stories. When a writer says a story takes on a life of its own, or that the characters surprised them, they aren’t being artsy—it’s a real thing.
Case in point, my own novel Trading Saints for Sinners. Maybe skip this paragraph if you haven’t read it now. SPOILER WARNING! Got it? Okay? Okay. So, Saints ends with the fraudulent journalist, Caden, replacing Mephistopheles as the Destroyer of Lies, while Mephistopheles and Ariadne, Caden’s lover, are trapped in a world of Caden’s imagination. That was not the original ending. In fact, there were two endings before this one. In the first, Caden rewrote Ariadne’s life and in return, wrote himself out of existence. But it didn’t work. The Mephistopheles character was far more interesting than I realized he would be, and he needed a place in the ending. So, take 2: Mephistopheles takes Caden’s life, trapping Caden in the imaginative world while Mephistopheles and Ariadne return to the real world as lovers. The story was already dark, though, and already had themes of rape and abduction. Mephistopheles tricking Ariadne to be his lover was a bit too far, and I still wanted the main theme of the end to be redemption. I especially did not want Mephistopheles to be the villain at the end. So, the new ending formed, where Mephistopheles is seeking freedom from eternity, Ariadne’s suffering ends, and Caden takes the burdens Mephistopheles carried—tricked to do so, but at peace with it. This is the ending the three characters demanded, and it was far from what I had originally planned.
The work I really want to publish next, Sin’s Requiem, is nothing like I had originally planned. I definitely did not plan on the characters witnessing the cosmos, but that happened. And that place is amazing. Simultaneously exploring, mapping, and creating the unknown. I imagine, if God existed, he felt this way when humans started to do things he didn’t agree with, kind of a “well, I didn’t have that planned, but damn, that’s interesting.” Of course he also attempted a page one rewrite, so even he looks at his work and knows it’s crap sometimes. Okay, back on track.
I started seeing a therapist and taking an SSRI. I actually changed therapists because the first one didn’t understand creative people, and definitely didn’t seem to take my concerns with writing seriously. His response was basically “just write,” and some dismissive remark about muses. So I switched therapists and after talking to my new one about writing, she was much more understanding, and promised we’d “get there.” This was the right response. She saw how much it meant to me and how much it troubled me, and didn’t dismiss it. Most importantly, and very different from the first one, is that she doesn’t want me to try and force myself to write.
A couple of months ago, I was afraid I would always feel turmoil when writing, forever. In November, right before the election, I participated in a write-a-thon, an event I love, and I even wrote a post on how to do well at one, because I’ve excelled at the 12 hour writing marathon in the past. But what actually happened was 8 hours of driving myself nuts trying desperately to make my characters do what they needed to do, and not caring so much about the story as I was about just writing something—anything. And at 8pm, I called it quits. I couldn’t do it. The next day, after I recovered, I knew that I needed to do something about the depression. And then I waited until February to actually do something about it.
I’m also getting frustrated at other writers questioning medication and therapy—it’s not going to impede your creativity. It will help. If you had diabetes, you would take insulin, right? Would you question someone for taking the medication? Probably not. In most cases, a mental illness is a physical illness. So, if you’re a writer who thinks they are too good to take medication, or that it will halt your precious method….shut up and see a doctor.
I’m hoping that sometime this summer, I’ll be able to finish my edits of Sin’s Requiem. But I won’t rush it. I want it to feel right. I want to be God again.

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