Today was not the best day for me. Oh, nothing went wrong per se. In fact, some would say I had a great day. And yet I could tell early on that I was headed for the emotional locale known as “The Dumps”. If you’re someone (like me) who has struggled with depression in the past (and still fights it in the present), you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I begin to take my eyes off the Lord, what’s true, and the things I love, and I put them on this one bad thing that grows bigger and bigger with each passing hour.
Last September I was on top of the world with my writing career. Two agents wanted to see full manuscripts of Soul Yearning and one editor already had it. My short story, Sweet Victory, was coming out in the October issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly. All my hard work was beginning to pay off.
Well those agents and the editor have had my manuscript for over four months. As per their request, I queried them all on a status update at the three month mark. I haven’t received a reply from anyone. That begins to get one wondering, “Gosh, is it so bad they don’t even know how to reply and hope I’ll just go away if ignored?”
I counter that with a professional reply of “Relax, Will. Work hard. Keep writing. No one gets their first book published. You’re still a newb compared to a lot of writers out there. Hard work will pay off eventually.”
That little war has been running in my mind the last few weeks. What set me off today?
A round of compliments at my monthly critique group meeting.
Why would this bother me?
Because a part of me would rather hear people say, “I just can’t get into this” or “The plot makes no sense”, etc. Now I only say a part of me because I like being complimented. Who doesn’t? But when you keep hearing great things from everyone who reads your story, you start to wonder some things.
Is everyone just being nice to me? Am I good, but just not good enough? Will I ever write something good enough to make an agent or editor rush for the phone? Is this really worth all the time I’m investing?
Yeah, that line of thinking will lead to The Dumps quickly
Which brings up the most important question: Now what?
When a person struggles with depression, the “now what?” is usually the hardest part. It’s hard to see clearly when you’re staring at a mountain. It’s hard to keep fighting. It’s easier to quit.
Quit is not a word I would use to define myself. Stubborn and hardheaded are more like me. So when the thought of quitting gets in my head, I get angry. Usually at myself. There is a seed of selfishness in all depression because I’m forgetting how my behavior affects those around me when I choose to check out and head to The Dumps.
My wife and children have sacrificed money and time so I can pursue my writing career. I have friends who have poured hours of their time into reading my work and offering critiques. I believe my Jesus wants me to write. This isn’t just about me. If I quit, I haven’t just wasted my time. I’m not just letting myself down.
Whether with writing or some other pursuit in my life, these truths have often brought me out of The Dumps and cleared my head enough to start seeing things as they really are.
The truth? I’ve only been pursuing a writing career for 2.5 years. I’ve had lots of successes and learned a ton. I’ve already gained so many things, and if I persevere through this, I’ll continue to gain even if I never publish a novel.
Does that mean I’ve left The Dumps? Well, anyone who’s been there knows that sometimes we like to wallow in that place for a bit. But I’m on the road out and ready to get back to the keyboard soon.
Besides, I just came up with a cool new idea I want to write about