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Depression in Writing

Posted by Cederak , May 19 2015 · 122 views

It helps me sometimes to write out certain things that are on my mind. Having everything in front of me – I can really process my thoughts.

I am writing an epic at the moment. The title is Cynosure. It is intertwined with canon events and is set 79,100 years before the Great Cataclysm. As I continue along, posting new episodes, this story is becoming an exploration of sorts.

There was never an indication that when I finished writing Cenotaphs, there would be another epic to tell. Cenotaphs plays with post-traumatic stress disorder and throws it on a cast of characters who, while sometimes endearing, are damaged and violent. In the process, I gave the protagonist obstacles and asked myself if he could handle all the twists I threw at him. Could he weather that kind of storm? I surmised he could, and Cenotaphs, while definitely hitting some low and dark moments, ends in a way where I think the protagonist is allowed to finally have the thing he wants. It is far from perfect, but the ending still brings a small smile to my face.

Cynosure on the other hand, is the deconstruction of all that. It answers two questions. What happens when we get what we want…and what do we do with the rest of our lives? I turned someone young and hopeful into a more aged and confident sort. And yet, the only conclusion that made sense is that he would suffer from depression. Much like PTSD, I have never experienced it myself, but depression is something terrifying that we cannot put a blade or a blaster to and expect it to just drift away. I knew building an antagonist that would perfectly embody the cloud of a life with depression might be challenging, but I am satisfied with what I have done thus far.

I want to tell you how someone with depression once described it to me. I am going to paraphrase because I don't remember the exact wording anymore. "Think of a cold, rainy day where nothing bad has happened to you, but you have this feeling like you wish the day could be better. The day is just very plain, and exhausting for no reason, and the skies are dark and you hope tomorrow might be nicer. Living with depression, a day like that is a best possible scenario at times. But the sad part is that you know tomorrow won't be nicer…maybe never again."

I write to understand myself and the world around me, by placing those ideas into things I can look at and read over. In the same way that Cenotaphs was written to learn about finding silver linings when life is hard, Cynosure is about fear. It shows us a protagonist who presents himself as whole and well-adjusted, trying to ignore that he has some undiagnosed problems to address. It's a challenge to myself to look inside my own thoughts and be slightly afraid. As different from me as my characters can be, they're still mine. I created them, their responses, and their actions. Their good and their bad is thought up in my head, inspired by what I have learned of my world.

I have no background in psychology, or any trained understanding of what it means to walk around with something in your head that is less than ideal. However, in the same way that I exercise with eventually increasing weight and longer running distances, I write to push the limits of my mind. When I read back my dialogue aloud, I'm listening for the emotional tones, the phrases that illicit a real response. Hearkening back to the "one for them, one for me" saying, Cenotaphs was something I really wanted to give for my audience to enjoy. Cynosure is a bit more self-indulgent, a little more about dealing with my own losses and low points and sarcastic thoughts and relieving myself of them.

It's not all bleak and gloomy, and I am always looking for new readers. I wouldn't still be writing if there was no enjoyment in it, and it's not to say my characters have lost their sense of humor in favor of something sad. Cynosure captures a lot of ideas, from a battle with depression that spans across the mental and physical realms, the importance of being true to ourselves, what it means to be responsible, and what (if anything) is standing in the way of what truly makes us happy. I have already written the ending to Cynosure. I wrote it several months ago. It does not make me smile. Not usually. It makes me think. My sig banner for this epic is a broken light bulb, and one that shines brighter than the broken one ever could. If you make it to the end of Cynosure, when those episodes are released, I think you'll understand the importance of that image, and the message I want to convey. It's not as simple as being happy or sad – sometimes it's about just wanting to be there for the people in your life, and knowing they feel the same way.

So yeah, I'm doing all right. I feel good, if not a little tired now and again. And I'm still working my way through the rest of Cynosure. It's not a fairy tale, but it carries a realistic and rewarding lesson that I choose to share with others. And from the look of it, the story will top out around 90k words. Brevity is not the strongest tool in my arsenal.

September 2015

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