Depression is a Bitch

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So, I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, but every time I sit down at the keyboard, I seem to lock up. I managed my post for Authors Speak last month, but not much else lately. Free Fiction Friday has been written ahead on for a while, so I haven’t even been doing that. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s fiction, a blog post, or something else entirely, nothing seems to want to come out. In fact, I’ve already restarted this post once. I suspect by the time I’m done, it’ll be even more. (This would be the second restart…)

There are a few things working against me with my block, the biggest is that I have been struggling again lately with my depression. I wrote a post a couple of years ago about it, and the vast majority of it is disturbingly still pertinent. Politics, holidays, and a big mess in the publishing world have contributed to this in a big way. But also, I’ve fallen into one of the biggest traps an author can do.

Comparing myself to other authors.

If it isn’t how much they make (which I am more aware of thanks to the ARe mess where people have talked about how much they’re losing because of it), it’s them being nominated for awards, or reviews consistently coming up on my timeline, or fans tagging them in recommendation threads, or or or…

A long time ago, I learned there is no value in comparing myself to others. All it will do is deepen my depression and make it even harder for me to put words on a page. Just like reading my reviews—especially the negative ones—it does me no good.

But that’s only part of it. It contributes, there’s no doubt, but it is only a part.

Depression is hard. It’s a liar. It undermines everything you know, everything you understand about yourself and the world. It colors everything gray and it makes you struggle to remember how things should be, not the skewed perception of how they are now, through the depression filter.

It takes the fatigue from my uncontrolled, underactive thyroid, the fears from my anxiety, and the pain from my adenomyosis and amps it by a thousand (or more). If that’s not enough, it alone makes me want to crawl into bed and hide under the covers for the next who-knows-how-long.

It takes the words and characters from my brain and locks them behind a door. They’re knocking; they want out. They don’t understand why the door is locked.

I understand. I want to unlock it, but I don’t have the key.

It makes sure you see people on the internet actually saying that authors should give their work away for free and if they don’t then they’re greedy, which makes things even worse. It makes me feel wrong for wanting to make a living at it. I feel guilty if I don’t post free stuff regularly.

Except, writing the only thing I can do. I get a small amount of contract work, helping with audiobooks. But I can’t go get a day job, as some suggest I do, so I am still working on making my writing a full-time income. I am, in fact, unemployable (and not just for my physical problems, but this is not the place to get into it).

Even when I manage to remember it’s all right to make a living at this, the concept is a double-edged sword. It puts an author under a tremendous amount of pressure to produce. Especially if you’re the main income in the house. My family depends on me getting the words down and getting them out there—whether through Dreamspinner, another press, or self-pub, it doesn’t matter—so the royalties can come in and we can pay bills.

So, it’s difficult to sit down and write for the love of it when everything is written with the eye on publishing it. No matter how hard I try, all those worries about “is this the right genre” and “what if they fall in love too fast” and “is there enough sex” and “is there too much sex” and and and… I find myself struggling to put down words because the anxiety makes it almost impossible to forget that stuff and just write.

And the worst part of depression is that it tells me that no one would miss me if I gave up. If I disappeared from social media, from the publishing world. From my own family. It tells me no one would miss my books. It makes me think those that read them only do so out of pity. I know, when the filters aren’t in place, I know this isn’t true. I’ve read the reviews. I’ve seen the comments. I’ve answered the questions about “when is <title> coming out.”

And yet, the depression lies and tells me those are lies. It drags me down until I struggle to remember the way back out. Until it’s hard to remember there is a way.

My family supports me. They tell me it’s okay if I can’t write. But they love me and don’t want to see me hurting. But I’m the only one that can do this. So if I can’t… then what?

Depression is a bitch. It doesn’t care who you are or what you do. If there’s something it can use to make you struggle harder, it will. If there’s something it can do to make things look bleaker and more hopeless, it will.

I promised myself a long time ago that I wouldn’t make excuses. I’ve tried to share with my readers and friends the struggles I go through with my health problems, showing how much they can interfere with life. I want to be up front with everyone so they know that I am trying, even if it doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

To that end, 2017 is going to start out rough for me. I have only one title anywhere near ready for publication. Three Hearts is with my editor now. The amazing cover artist is working on it with me and I hope to have something to show soon.

But after that? I have no idea when I will have something out. So, please have patience. Read the free stuff I’ve got here on the site. I’d love to know what you think, so feel free to fill in the contact form or email me directly.

And please have a little patience and stick around. I’ll do my best to get back to you soon.

12 Comments

  1. Helen Pattskyn Helen Pattskyn
    January 3, 2017    

    **hugs** Would it help if I said you’re one of the people I fall into the trap of comparing myself to (as in “she’s put out so much and look at my paltry back-catalog!”)

    I know that doesn’t *really* help , but I wanted to throw that out there because I think you’re awesome (I also want to encourage you to take as much time as you need, guilt-free, and do what you need to for you–we’ll be here waiting for you when your next book comes out. “What About Now?” was one of the books I read while I was supposed to be writing and I *really* enjoyed it.)

    • grduncan grduncan
      January 4, 2017    

      In a weird sort of way, it does help. I’m really glad to hear you enjoyed WAN and I appreciate so much the words of encouragement. <3

  2. Tucker McCallahan Tucker McCallahan
    January 4, 2017    

    Writers don’t write because we want to; we write because if we don’t, our dreams AND our demons stay shut inside our minds. The longer we allow them refuge, the more intense the war between them becomes. Sometimes I think we’re cursed. Other times I’m sure we’re the enlightened ones, blessed with the ability to translate the world into meaningful stories. Arthur O’Shaughnessy said it far more eloquently:

    We are the music makers,
    And we are the dreamers of dreams,
    Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
    And sitting by desolate streams;—
    World-losers and world-forsakers,
    On whom the pale moon gleams:
    Yet we are the movers and shakers
    Of the world for ever, it seems.

    Gentle hugs, my friend.

    • grduncan grduncan
      January 4, 2017    

      Oh, I love that poem. I’m going to have to keep it.

      You’re right, though. We *have* to write because it’s such an integral part of ourselves to get the stories out. *hugs*

  3. A Fan A Fan
    January 4, 2017    

    Sending big hugs.

    Whilst I don’t have your health issues and do have a day job, the rest of the post, regarding the words not coming, the comparing to others, and the whole no one would actually notice if I vanished from the publishing world could have been written by me it rings so true.

    I know it won’t help much, but the authors I compare myself to are the ones whose stories stay with me. I log all my books in Calibre and use the ratings there purely for my own benefit. There are nearly 1000 books in that library (which I now realise should be more because there are more on my Kindle which means something isn’t backed up and I have no idea what – but beside the point). Of those books just 64 have a 5 star rating. They are the stories that have stayed with me. The ones that when I get round to rating months later (because I do them in bulk) I still recall the characters, the plots, and how good they were.

    There are many books that I read and enjoy, but ask me about them six months later and I can’t even remember the plot. The 5 star rated books in my library are ones that I truly loved, remembered, and still remember.

    The Choices series is on that list of 5 star rated books.

    Every now and then, when I am dithering about what to read and nothing in my unread folder appeals to me at the time, I go to that list of 5 star authors and go see if they have anything new out. Sadly some of those authors are no longer writing and I only found out too late to tell them how much I enjoyed their stories.

    So let me take this opportunity to tell you how much I love your stories and that if you did leave the publishing world I would notice. I might not be aware straight away, but there would come a day when I would search for your newest books/blog and realise you were gone, and you would be missed.

    • grduncan grduncan
      January 4, 2017    

      It’s difficult to separate yourself enough from these sorts of fears to realize how easily we allow ourselves to fall into these thoughts. It’s SO amazing to hear things like this and it IS helpful and does give us a bit of a hand in backing away from the darker moments. Sometimes, it’s a little thing (maybe to the person saying it)–or not so little (to the person hearing it–that makes all the difference. I do often compare myself to the authors whose stories stay with me, that much is true. I didn’t think of it like that, but that puts some of it into a bit of a different perspective.

      I can’t tell you how much it means to me to read this. Thank you so so much for the hugs and encouragement. <3

  4. Dianalee rode Dianalee rode
    January 4, 2017    

    I know depression and it’s lies. It is so damn hard. I can offer no answers or really any solace, as if I could, I wouldn’t know depression as well as you do. So all I can say is, for what it is worth, you are not alone.

    • grduncan grduncan
      January 9, 2017    

      *hugs* Thank you so much. I appreciate the support. 🙂

  5. Jennifer Jennifer
    January 9, 2017    

    I don’t suffer from depression myself, but both my father and my younger sister do, and I’ve seen firsthand how much it impacts their lives. Society at large doesn’t have nearly enough understanding of depression, and the support network can be sadly lacking. Every day you can work through it is a victory, and that includes the days where you don’t get any writing done. I adore everything you’ve written, and buy your new titles as soon as they come out. I would certainly miss you if you stopped, so I hope that you are able to maintain your strength and keep writing. I’ll look at the coming intermission in publishing as a chance to reread all of your older titles, and get even more excited for your next release. I hope that the support of your fans, as well as your friends and family, can help you through this period, and inspire you in the future. And I certainly will be waiting patiently for your next releases! Mmm…Patience…I guess I’ll be rereading the Forbes Mates series first!

    • grduncan grduncan
      January 9, 2017    

      I can’t tell you how much it means to see these words. It really helps, especially on the darker days, to know someone out there really does look forward to my work. Thank you so much. *hugs*

  6. Carly Carly
    January 9, 2017    

    Oh my goodness. You took the words right out of my mouth. I don’t know what the solution is… but I’m willing to hide under the covers with you until we’re both ready to come out. ***hugs***

    • grduncan grduncan
      January 9, 2017    

      *hugs* I say we get some coloring books and pencils and hide together. 🙂 Thank you. Your support means more than you can know.

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