Writing for me has always been therapeutic. I had always written the most when my life was at it’s worst. Until the past 6-7 years. I’ve had some seriously rotten times these past couple years, but I am no longer driven to write. I have been mourning this fact for the past couple years and hoping that the ideas would come again. They haven’t. I’ve tried, too. I’ve picked up my novel numerous times, worked on it for a bit, then put it aside, where it now sits, dormant for 6 months.
My writing was driven by a need. Some indefinable something I had to give in to. 20 years ago I wrote nearly constantly. I’ve completed four novels and still have two more outlined and sitting in boxes. It’s been more than 8 years since I had anything published, and the way it looks now, I won’t be publishing any time soon.
I know it is something many artists fear. That once they are whole and addiction-free their ability to continue their craft. That something would change and not for the better. Stephen King had that fear during his drinking years. So did Jack Kerouac, and I’m sure many others whose suffering created their art. Pretty easy to see it would be frightening to give up drink, knowing that’s when you were at your best. That becoming whole and sober might mean the end of your career. I think King is one of the few who managed to give up their vice and continue their success. So it has been with me and my depression. (My depression, like it was some sort of evil pet.) A fear that I would lose my art if I were well.
Writing was always an outlet for my pain. It was an escape. It kept my mind occupied on something positive. It often held the depression at bay. Of course these past few years of my deepest depression I wasn’t writing. So there seems to be a limit. I guess that should be obvious, and consider the suicides; Spalding Gray, Robin Williams, Hemingway, John Belushi. Now that I am no longer in pain, my ‘talent’ such as it was, is gone. Is it gone? Is it the ability that is gone, or just the desire that has left me?
I think sometimes if I just disciplined myself and sat every day for an hour and tried to write, it might come back to me. I see my novel sitting gathering dust on the shelf and wonder if I should try (again) to finish it. It’s nearly done. All the pieces of the story have been drafted. It still needs two or three editing sessions, but the hardest part is done. I think. Maybe that’s why I am putting it aside, that the editing will turn out to be the biggest hurdle and I subconsciously put it off?
So I ask you, does one need pain to create art? Or maybe I need to simply find another outlet?