Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Depression and writing

It's hard to say you have depression when you're very peripherally related to an industry like publishing. I have always felt that you, as a writer, have to be ready to say, brightly and enthusiastically, 'Of course I can do that line edit in six days! Complete rewrite, sure, two weeks? No problem.'

To an outsider, it might seem that the writer is CENTRAL to the publishing process, but that's not how it feels. So much work goes into turning an idea (a well written 100k book is still essentially just an idea) into a product. Experts are considering how your book will read, how it will affect the reader throughout the read, what comparisons can be made and how to position your book in a busy market. Sending the book to an agent is step one - they have to sell it to editors. They know what they want, what they have bought or read before (I've had a book turned down because it was too similar to something that was coming out). All this is invisible to most writers. 

Well, I do suffer from depression and unfortunately, I haven't had much benefit from modern antidepressants. So, it's a long slog back to the light each time. It doesn't stop me being imaginative or creative, it makes concentration harder, the words flow slowly and worst of all, it undercuts my confidence. I look at today's words and all the old fears come flooding back. Is it all a pile of steaming crap?  

Well, obviously it IS, it's first draft, from which I will grow better drafts, whole chapters and books and series. But it's hard to see that while you're just wishing you could sleep (without nightmares), walk into the village (without panic attacks) and look forward to a brighter day. Good days and hours are coming, but the bad days are hard. I just fantasise about those lovely safe asylums, where you can sit in the corner in your pyjamas and rock... In the real world, I'm gathering the happy days to me to keep warm. The weekend with both grandchildren and the birthday my husband was told he would never see, the research for future books coming together, the art course and camping trips ahead, all happy moments. But writing has definitely lost its ability to heal me. 

If I have to pretend I'm not depressed, I don't care if I don't sell another book to a big commercial publisher. I think I would need to be in a better place than I am now, certainly, to cope with the pressure. I feel like I'm transitioning to seeing writing books in a completely different way...

Meanwhile, I've been reading a book a day. The Binding by Bridget Collins was great, unashamedly fantasy but completely accessible to people who won't read fantasy. A historical story with lovers torn apart, trying to find each other. Heartwarming story, real tension, great writing. I thought it was a bit like The Night Circus and maybe a bit better ending.

The Binding Bridget Collins

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