But I’ve found that if life gets hard and I stop writing, my melancholy deepens, my sense of hopelessness intensifies, my feelings of displacement echo more loudly. I am 70 000 words into Isabella’s Gift, the next Kimberley Freeman novel (you can read about it over there), but have temporarily put it on hold to attend to some heavy paperwork and sort out a bit of research. Because it’s bad for me to stop writing all together, I’m writing a short story that is quickly turning into a novella. It’s called, tentatively, “Dreams of Wild Blood”, and it’s about a girl who has grown up with supernatural strength and has learned to hide it, and she finds out on the eve of her wedding that Odin is her father. Adventure, drama, and cage-fighting with frost giants ensues. Dear Lord I am having a good time writing it. I’ve spent this morning in bed with lots of cups of tea, a copy of the Poetic Edda at my elbow, and my netbook on my lap, banging out a couple of thousand words. So. Much. Fun. It makes the mountain of legal forms waiting for me on my desk much less foreboding.
And that’s my point. Writing fixes everything. Instead of saying, “I’m too depressed to write”, you should say “I’m depressed: I must write.” Don’t make writing another chore, another heavy expectation, another unwanted obligation to fit into your miserable day. Make it the place you go to get away from all that shit, your rabbit-hole, your luxurious den of Viking mythology (or whatever it is you are writing about). There is so much pleasure in writing: why deny yourself of it in times that are bleak?
“Dreams of Wild Blood” will be published in a new e-journal called Australian Review of Fiction in February next year. I’ll let you know.