Are Writers Unhappy?

I know there have been some studies saying that creative people (and writers in particular) are more susceptible to depression and emotional disorders. I’m not sure of the statistics and I don’t qualify as someone who has ever been clinically depressed. But I do have to wonder sometimes if writers inherently need unhappiness in order to write compelling tales.

I say this because I know quite a few writers, brilliant writers, who struggle daily with personal situations that would drain the life from many people. Physical disabilities. Relatives with autism and/or Alzheimer’s Disease. Writers who had an extremely tough childhood, are bi-polar, or clinically depressed.

Me? I live with someone who should be clinically depressed, has been treated for it before, but isn’t taking any meds right now. And you know what? It sucks.

I personally have never been diagnosed with any kind of mental or emotional issues. I tend to bounce back quickly from strife and have a positive outlook on myself and life. But I swear, I must be either a masochist, or I just like to invite unhappiness into my life, because I always seem to find myself with people who bring this sort of thing with them. In college, my roommate had a breakdown (nearly pulling me down with her) and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Incidentally, my aunt is also schizophrenic, and it was very creepy dealing with her when I was young. I’m pretty sure I have low level ADHD myself. Squirrel? But anyways, I can’t think why I always seem to find myself with people who for one reason or another are unhappy. It makes me unhappy as well.

And yet it seems like the times when things are most unhappy in my life, I produce the most writing.

Coincidence? Or maybe just a simple cause and effect such as “you can’t write what you don’t know”–if you haven’t experienced suffering, how can you write about it? Or maybe I write more in those times as a means of escape?

I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve been having a rough last two years, and yet in the last two years I published my first novel (under another name), finished another one, and am now well into writing a third. Plus short stories and novellas on the side.

This will probably be one of the most personal posts I make in a long time, because I tend to be a private person by nature. But after two hours sleep, I just had to put a few thoughts down on paper. (Or a screen. You get the idea).

My partner has told me on more than one occasion that I seem to like conflict and drama, that I act in ways which create it. She could be right. The inner drama of my stories might be manifesting as real life drama (or the other way around, not sure).

All I know is that when these surges in creativity happen, I just try to ride them for as long as possible.

And hold on.

Excited about beginnings

I love starting a new book.

There’s just something to me about that first chapter, diving into a new story that I find exciting. The book is full of possibilities.

Now understand that I just don’t sit down in front of a white screen and start typing–well not quite, anyway. I always create a notebook first of all the details about the world, the characters, plot notes, a basic outline, and anything else I think I might need once I get writing. When I leap, I have all that supporting me, guiding me. That’s when the fun begins.

So I’m writing a romantic suspense novel, which means I get to start right in the middle of a crisis, an action scene.  That’s particularly fun. A chase scene. A murder. A broken heart.

See why I love beginnings?

My first two paragraphs. (Be aware this is fresh from my head, unedited):

Derwin Bryant never quit in a chase.

The skip he was pursuing was an Oddity, which was particularly annoying in this case because the guy could read minds and knew he was being pursued. Derwin figured his own unusual strengths wouldn’t be able to compensate for that, even though he’d powered up before heading out to apprehend the fugitive.

A light rain fell on the streets of the city of Nis, making the neon lights of the local porn shops and drugstores into pretty reflections on the asphalt. Derwin avoided a puddle as he ran down an alley, narrowly avoiding an overturned trash can. He grimaced at the smell of rotting food and old beer, as he checked the grip on his billy club. Up ahead he knew the alley ended in a dead end. No way that ole’ Jack was going to escape this time.