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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

p & a

I'm not a depressive person, I'm happy (even elated) to say. To the best of my knowledge, I've never experienced a sustained depression. My depressions have all been within the bounds of the normal: the lowering of one's mood due to unpleasant events or circumstances. I've been more of an anxiety-prone person--one given to feelings of panic. In my opinion, anyway, a panicking person is not depressed. Indeed, a panicking person would welcome a bit of depression.

All of that being said, I'm undergoing a relatively depressed phase of my life right now, and have been since at least the summer. It corresponds with a major transit of the planet Saturn through a large structure of my astrological chart, and Saturn tends to have a depressing effect (I've listed Donna Cunningham's stages of a Saturn transit in an earlier post). The first of the stages, "confronting lack or loss", is certainly a depressing rather than an uplifting experience (don't worry--I'm smiling as I write this).

I think a key word here is confronting. It suggests that the lack or loss is being pushed in one's face, or up one's nose--that if we've been trying to hide from something, now we can't. Something forces our attention on an area of lack in our life.

I have more than one. But for the purposes of this blog, it is the "career" side of my life--and of course most particularly this very project, this very book, are key here. It's slowly and unpleasantly dawning on me that I'm spooked. Somehow, my project has thrown me off, and, like a thrown rider, I'm scared to get back on. I've been making all kinds of excuses--more research to do, rethinking the viewpoint of the whole thing, other work on the side--but they are only excuses.

Procrastination and avoidance are universal aspects of the writer's experience. They're so well-known that they make their way into almost any comic depiction of writing life. One of my favorites, partly because I've been a TV writer, was the set of episodes of Seinfeld in which Jerry and George are trying to sell a sitcom to a TV network. (They're selling, in effect, The Jerry Seinfeld Show.) The scenes of Jerry and George sitting down to write an episode I found hilarious--completely unlike actual writing, even team writing, but accurate in its portrayal of the writers' doggedness in avoiding the task at hand.

So, yeah, procrastination and avoidance are funny--up to a point. Maybe they're funny in the same way that those scenes on America's Funniest Videos are funny in which folks get hit in the groin with baseballs/piñata sticks/gymnasts' feet: they're funny when they're happening to someone else.

So: psychological resistance (procrastination and avoidance) forms one tine of a multipronged incursion of depression in my life. No easy way out.

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