Friday, June 21, 2002
Writing and Depression
Maybe I should have called this entry "Cause or Cure". It is prompted by your entry, below, where you mention feeling "mildly depressed" about writing. I used to be depressed by the dismal prospects of getting published given my sometimes violent passion for getting the Okal Rel Universe stories out to others, as if I owed it to the characters to provide them a means of surviving me. Throne Price has cured that angst, and Brian's much valued interest in the series. What I find depressing now, on and off, is the sense that so much of the world seems to be going 'print blind'. People don't read. If they do read, they can't cope with anything longer or more challenging than Animorphs (which, by the way, I am enjoying as my eldest reads it to me). Sometimes I feel perfectly comfortable with an elitist stance. Who cares if only the literate can enjoy the ORU? It is the literate I view as our audience, and the encouragement and enjoyment reported by readers whose opinions I value has sustained me through those blah times when you ask yourself "why bother?" Sometimes I even feel the ORU has a crucial message for our times, regarding the challenge of balancing desires--however heartfelt and "good"--with the carrying capacity for life on our planet and respect for the choice of others--however questionable or "evil". Whether the questions asked about culture, gender issues, winning and losing, status or morality, are well answered or just raised in a convincing array of opinions for examination, I feel I am making meaningful use of my diverse education and reflective experience of life by spinning stories to share. And I do not believe I could share them in the same way if constrained to the demands of prime time television or a movie block buster, which however exciting or well suited to our "five minute attention span" these days, preforce lack subtlety or the scope to develop different ways of apprehending the world. Other times I suspect myself of hubris, or plain old "look at me" disease coupled with a dose of sour grapes for all the attention paid to things that seem tinsel-simple or at least simple-minded to me. At such times I suspect my own taste. But the pleasure I derive from writers and multimedia story tellers who do great things, IMHO, sustains me against my own doubts of pathalogical bias: series like Babylon 5, and writers like Guy Gavriel Kay, Lois McMaster Bujold, Marie Jakober, Rebecca Bradley, David Brin, stretches of Katherine Asaro, Usula Le Guin, Tolkien, Rowling, and many other who don't spring to mind immediately for quirkish reasons, not to mention, of course, yourself Alison. Reading someone grand is the next best thing to writing something equally deserving, with the added zest of being much less hard work with lots more novelty and instant gratification. But whatever my mental struggles with the writing business, in the end I come full circle. I write because I am a writer. Whether that is a noble thing or something of a mental illness, I can't help it. Until and unless I can, I try to convince myself, these days, not to fret about it. Just do it. Of course, as with all things, some days I am more successful in that mental discipline than others. :-)

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