There is a persistent myth about the brooding writer – you know, the moody, morose scribe, tapping into the darkest reaches of his or her soul in order to pour their agonized words out on the page, like the spilling of their soul's lifeblood. I'm actually not sure it's 100% myth. I read somewhere (okay, here) that creative minds, including writers, have a higher preponderance of depression than the general population. It's a chicken/egg question: are they depressed from being artists or do they make better artists because they are depressed?
I don't know the answer to that. I do know that my mind tiptoes around the periphery of that void now and again. Could be because I am separated (physically) from my spouse. Could be lack of job fulfillment. Could be I simply haven't done as well in my writing as I think I should have by now. But I understand the gravitational pull of allowing despair to stick its nose under the tent flap. Like a wolf skulking in the dark just past the light of the fire, depression is always there – kept away by the flame of happy living. But only as long as the flame burns.
(Muse: Wow, you tortured the hell out of that metaphor.)
A little more reading shows that it's not an uncommon issue among writers, and that there is no consensus on whether melancholia is good for the spirit. Here, some offer their mixed perspectives. Elizabeth Moon offers a counterpoint. In short, she decries the notion that depression leads to better work and on the contrary, is poison to the creative spirit.
I am not sure what to believe. I guess I will just keep stoking that fire and see where it leads me. I mean, do I have a choice?
(Muse: No, because I am not sharing this head space with a moping sourpuss.)