I’ll be taking description of the preoccupying activities of my last few weeks in sections so as to keep each post to a crisp theme rather than a sprawling ramble as is my wont of late. Even that first sentence was wordy.
I’ve been writing. Not a lot, not even very much by standards set at different points in my life, but I have been writing. Putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, more accurately, is and has been like everything else in my life lately. The worst part of depression is the feeling of mortality, the sense of being bond. I can feel time escaping me and my self-protective fantasy of living forever is losing its veneer. The truth of its internal nonsense is showing through. Cold reckoning isn’t something helpful, right now, and it would be too easy to surrender all the remaining days I have for the apparent few they are.
When I can turn away from that, regain the fantasy, the physical chaining remains. Depression increases my anxiety and they conspire to fire my insomnia to peak burn. The sleeplessness combined with a dulled impetus toward doing anything leads me to wasted days playing old computer games in attempts to feel nothing. At the end of each day, though, I’m forced to face that same sense of loss, of time finite rather than infinite, and the self recrimination of having thrown more grains down the barrel.
But not all is bleak. I miss Brahm very much, for his affection and his status as the only truly cuddly cat, something keenly noticed as the temperature declines, but also in his overlapped tenure with Boris, a cat I had for nearly twenty years, a pet who saw me through all grade school, all of my cancer treatment, and most of my worst melancholia. Brahm’s death is a reopening to the loss of Boris. Their deaths have given me a sharp and specific sense of loss which is informing a character the sort of which I’ve never written before.
I once asked a female classmate who couldn’t manage to create believable male characters why she never wrote women. She replied, “because girls are boring.” Despite her ridiculous statement, she couldn’t write men, either. They seemed effete and feminine. I’ve always feared transgressing that way. I don’t write female protagonists because I worry they wouldn’t be believable, but the character of Carla, a young woman who is the protagonist of an as yet untitled magical realism / science fiction piece came to me so vividly and so complete that I felt safe in writing her. She’s the sort of figment that springs complete, like Athena, the kind about whom I could answer life questions that have no pertinence to the story she inhabits. The bizarre world that brings her the sorrow I use to process my own stems from her, grows, organically, from her beliefs and her persona, such that it seems that she creates it and the world lives in here, rather than the other way around.
Characters are the entry way to everything I write. The stronger my sense of the character, the more vivid his or her world. I would trade this gift of so complete a story back a hundred times for more time with my pets, but were I to believe in such trite notions as silver linings, the story would be it.
As Neil Gaiman said, when life wounds you, your only recourse as an artist is to make art of the grief.