When Mindfump asked me if I wanted to write a guest post on writing a novel while depressed, I jumped at the chance. It’s a delight to read his posts, so appearing on his blog is a real honour. Though now I realise I’m going to have to put the work in to make sure I can provide the well-crafted metaphors you (his readers) are so used to. Because whether Mindfump realises it or not, he’s a master of metaphor, metonymy and synecdoche, it’s why I like to read his posts.
Part of the reason I suspect Mindfump asked me to do this post is because I recently published my first novel on Amazon (insert shameless plug here). I won’t lie, it’s been a loooong, hard slog (Eight years…). Let’s start to have some fun testing my ghost writing skill and see how far I get imitating Mindfump’s style (I understand I don’t need to do that to guest post but I thought it’d be fun to see if I could do it).
When I was a kid my parents had this old music system, it was one of those systems that had a record player on top even though we were well past the era of records. I don’t think either of my parents were avid music fans but they had quite a few records between them. The cassette tape of Zorba that our grandmother had given us had mysteriously gone missing after we were told it was not as good the five thousandth time. So still in search of music my siblings and I quickly rifled through the records* and found the ones we thought were worth listening to. The record player was pretty old and so were the records but on the whole they played smoothly. Sometimes the speakers would cut out or the record would skip a track but I spent a lot of time joyously dancing around the living room to lyrics I was far too young to understand.
Now I’m old enough to understand those lyrics and the world, I’m suddenly a lot less joyous. I definitely don’t spend hours dancing around the living room anymore*. My mind is a lot like that old record player though, it was a shiny new player at one time but someone has been over playing Anxious Thoughts and Deeply Morose and they’ve worn it out. Writing isn’t really something you can do without thinking so I have to dust off the records and hope the player will work smoothly when I want to write.
There have been times when the speakers have cut out and nothing has happened. The characters have remained frozen in place unable to dance like they’re playing musical statues at an awkward, kid’s birthday party. And sometimes I haven’t been able to get the speakers working again for months*.
Sometimes the record has skipped a track and I feel like I’ve missed something really important. But the trouble with record players is, when you try to start it at a specific point it can be hard to set the needle down precisely where you want it. So there are sections I’ve heard a lot before getting to the new song I missed before.
I’ve tried just turning off the record player, closing the lid and putting away all the records. In the hopes that the writing can continue without it, but it seems I need music to be playing to write well. If I turn off the record player my writing is just filled with clunky echoes of the crackly recordings of Anxious Thoughts and Deeply Morose. Those two songs that get stuck in your head even though you hate them. And therein lies the problem with writing when depressed. Most of these problems are pretty standard. Everyone gets a bit of writer’s block every now and then*, everyone has difficulty creating a well flowing story every now and then*. But not everyone has to put up with ‘I know a song that’ll get on your nerves!’ while they’re writing. Not everyone has to change the record just to make sure they are varying their characters and not writing a depressing book about depressed people doing depressing things.
I’ve thought about getting a new record player but what if without this particular record player I can’t write?
*Probably scratching a number of them in the process.
*My flat is so damp and cold the living room is out of commission.
*When you’ve had the kids playing musical statues for months, the parents start knocking on the doors and peering in through the windows wondering what the hell happened to their kids. I do not recommend this.
*An entirely unfact checked statement.
*Also not fact checked.
*Or was it Mindfump all along?