How’s it going? Your writing. Not your life. Did you say what’s the difference? Ha…Ha… I know. There’s none. Writing is life and vice versa.
I mean, there are days, not few and far between but many and never ending, when everything begins and ends with plots. Or characters. Or scenes. Or all of it. You see him, drinking next to you asking you a question, you’ve forgotten to answer in your novel.
You see her. Smiling at you. And you’re haunted by her smile. When you know she died in the last chapter. You wonder late at night if her death was justified. If bringing her back to life will make it alright?
You leave what you were doing in the middle of the day and rush towards your laptop or note pad or diary and scribble till you feel empty and something — or close to something, starts taking shape on paper.
You know it’s your opinion. You know it’s your world. You know it’s your imagination. And you know you are alone. There’s no help. There’s no shoulder to rest your fertile and conflicted head. It’s your journey. And it’s a lonely one.
We writers are always in a state of introspection, incubation and isolation. This is our life. The peculiar life of a writer.
Psychiatrists call us depressed, people call us mad. Look at our predecessors. The brightest stars of the writing world. Right from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, Sylvia Plath, Stephen King, Tennessee Williams, Virginia Wolf, Leo Tolstoy to J K Rowling battled what Ernest Hemingway terms as “ The Artist’s Reward.”
I mean the artist’s reward here may refer to mood disorders and depression. But in some cases, it does include mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder and ADHD. Creativity, unfortunately, is often directly linked to major mental illnesses.
Like they say, intelligent people are never really happy. And creative people are never really normal.
So can we live like this? I think our only hope is to break out of it sometimes. I don’t think I can do that, I say. How can I abandon a piece or novel mid-way? And if I do — how will I get my train of thoughts in order. What if I lose that passion which drives me forward?
But when I’m done writing a book, I can break free. I can completely forget about it and learn something new like painting or Ikebana. Travel to a new place. Trek. Discover a new world and lose myself in it.
Reading, listening to music, cooking, socializing works too.
I think we also need to open up to the power of breathing, exercise and yoga. It can help us maintain balance. And stay away from falling into the abyss.