Many years ago, I remember reading an essay in a literary journal by a woman who said her unsuccessful 10-year-attempt to get published almost drove her to suicide.
I couldn’t believe it. Or rather, I believed she was telling the truth about her experience, but I wondered how anyone could get so lost in one endeavor as to so severely lose perspective.
Then years passed, and with it, writing successes here and there, but no jackpot. No fancy agent and a six-figure advance with a huge publishing company. Given that constant rejection, doubt is an almost certain byproduct of attempting to achieve the almost impossible while isolated in that task.
Fortunately I wasn’t totally isolated. I had — and have — my writing buddies, with whom I can commiserate on those days you receive your 500th rejection, a problem that’s faced by anyone in the arts.
Ewan Morrison talks about that very subject in his article The Suicidal Artist in Psychology Today (April 2019):
Artists, according to one recent study, are now considered to be 25% more likely to carry genes for mental illness. And artists can become dependent on the anti-social practice of art making as a substitute for socialised behaviour and mental health. Art making can, in fact, become a dangerous surrogate and addiction, one that can lead to burn-out and suicidal ideation.
He goes on to say some troubled artists worry that if they improve their mental health through therapies of one kind or another, they may lose their creativity.
Fortunately there are now resources by people-who-know, such as Chrys Fey, who wrote Keep Writing With Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer’s Block, Depression and Burnout!, who, though she started her writing career at a young age, faced a wall of depression and burnout. Her book includes the tantalizing topic “What a writer doesn’t need to succeed.”
Fey also writes Disaster Crime Series, books that combine romance, crimes and disasters. Lightning Crimes and Tsunami Crimes are two.
So we thank Fey for showing us how she pushed through various low periods in order to become a successful writer.
If you have other books or resources that have helped you, please write them in the comments section. The more we network and share, the less likely we are to feel isolated.