The Demons Within

Are we as writers prone to melancholy? Are we prone to periods of madness so that the proverbial phoenix can rise from the ashes? Is that the true nature of the writer? Or, are we simply dis-spirited when we can’t write?

When life gets in the way and I don’t have the opportunity to write, I become a troll. An ugly self-deprecating troll. Oh, everyone sees the smiling me on the outside, but deep inside, I’m miserable and the world can just stop spinning anytime so I can get off this #@! merry go round!

Every time I find myself this way, I become more aware that the troll exists when I’m not being true to my nature, true to my spirit, true to my creativity. For me, writing isn’t like cooking (although I love to cook too) wherein something is created, everyone ooohs and aaahs their pleasure, the dishes get done and a perfectly satisfying moment has been shared by the hungry and adoring masses. Never have I had story written, published and admired in 3 hours or less and left the office tidy. If that isn’t a realistic goal …..

Some call it a funk, others a dead muse. I wonder who clipped the darn bird’s wings so it can’t fly? Life does that when it gets in the way of my writing. And my spirit feels like it’s died another irrevocable death.

As writers, we support each other through our dead-spirit moments, when we feel like an utter failure, like life is conspiring against our genius. Our genius which we lay, like nervous sacrifices on the alters of critiquers’, teachers’, editors’, publishers’ and readers’ unfathomable fancies. We trust that they, like us, will adore the gem we’ve created. Ooohing and aaaahing, grins of contentment adorn their admiring faces as their contagious pleasure spreads to others so that we, genius writers, may lay greater word feasts before our guests. And when this sarcastic and disheartening inner voice speaks, what can I, the melancholy writer, do?

Despair? Sometimes? Cry? Oh yes! Scream? Too polite to do that. Suffer in martyrdom? Definitely. Rise above it? Eventually. Yes, rise. Push that darn phoenix out of the fire before it gets roasted!

Why bother? you ask. Because the spirit knows no other way. You only give up if writing isn’t part of who you are. Because to give up is death for your soul and the emptiness is haunting. Denying the creativity drives me into deeper madness.

But how does one rise above the despair when the inner demons are so strong, when the melancholy is so deep?

One moment at a time.

One word at a time.

By knowing that life has to happen WITH me participating in it, with all its joys, sorrows, responsibilities, distractions and yes, with the demon of doubt.

The key to conquering the doldrums is not found solely in the act of writing. It is in the act of acknowledging that putting words together is who I am – it is an inextricable, wonderful, creative part of me. It IS my spirit.

That means that sometimes, I must be patient with life because I will need it to be patient with me.

That means I can find other ways to fill the void until life’s challenge is overcome. I can read. I can write a blog. I can research.

I can remind myself that as I emerge from the haze of the demonic funk, I will remember that I never left the path – I just couldn’t walk it for a while.

But most importantly, I can acknowledge the void and be satisfied that I know who I am, that I know what feeds my soul and most importantly, that one day soon, I will feast at the table of creativity and word-smithing. Until then, I get to do a deeper character study of the demon within.

4 responses on “The Demons Within

  1. leigh

    This post reminds me of something I heard recently–that avid readers have the same emotional symptoms as addicts. We writers are the same, I think. Addicts to writing the stories in our heads. If we’re kept from getting our regular fix, we start falling into an emotional withdrawal filled with depression and irascible behavior.

    Then again, we could all just be crazy people.

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