Let’s Write About It
Depression is a crazy, salt-and-pepper cloud of wordless feeling that’s difficult to write about. So let’s write about it. Because if the difficult, sweaty emotion is the stuff good writing is made of, think how good a piece on depression might be.
Being depressed and writing go so hand-in-hand I feel something past cliche and closer to the orbit of myth. We mythicize depressed artists, and by placing them on the same tiers as Zeus and Paul Bunyon we announce that their depression was similarly untouchable. But like alcoholism and writing, depression isn’t merely mythic, and it isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and even if the problem is a cliche it’s still a problem. Rolling your eyes at something doesn’t make it any less shitty.
So let’s do what writing is meant to do and write about it and get some truth out there to read and think about. Gone should be the nagging impulse to cut or alter your depressed characters, to make the melancholy merely brooding, the desperate just uninformed. Editors whose upper lips tug on the last page of your manuscript and ask for a happier ending deserve some patience, consideration, but also some perspective. Happy for happy’s sake is as bad and more misleading than gloomy for gloomy’s sake.
Let’s write about the hard stuff, not only to give the world an eyedropper worth of understanding, but, selfishly, for ourselves. To wear down the rough, gritty parts of the rock in our heads into something that sparkles so bright you’ll let your corneas burn off before looking away. Because not only could you produce something good, or maybe even great, from working it out onto the page, you may even understand yourself and the beast a little bit better. And that’s worth at least a couple trips to the coffee shop, pen and paper in hand.
Jean-Luc Bouchard is a writer living in New York whose work has appeared in PANK, Umbrella Factory, Specter, Danse Macabre, Eastlit, 100 Word Story, ExFic, and other journals. His story “Arm in Arm, March On” won second place in One Throne Magazine’s 24-hour Story Contest, and he is the winner of Blotterature Magazine’s “50 Words” contest for June 2014. He can be followed @jlucbouchard, and his work can be found at jeanlucbouchard.com.