Monday, February 3, 2014

Can Publication Cause Depression?

Let’s get this up front. Life isn’t fair. And adversity builds character…yada yada.
Last year, I got divorced. Plus my job situation sucked. It all hit me like a bag of hammers. I can tell you honestly that, even having been shot at and knocked around in my younger years, I’d never been so scared in my life. Or depressed.

So with 2013 behind me, stronger now, gaining ground, hindsight 20/20, some philosophical questions have weaved through my quiet hours of pontification. Right before and during my marriage, I encountered some upsetting life curves.  Undaunted, I pounded my chest and got tougher…which was really just moodier and didn’t help the matrimony. However, during all those years, I was also pursuing publication like a madman. Looking back, I kind of see myself as Jack Torrence in The Shining—short of wanting to hurt anyone, of course, but I was really obsessed. More to the point, maybe depressed and aggravating myself.
I don’t think the rejections stung nearly as much as dashed hopes. Going into it, most of us know we’re going to get shot down a lot. But the roller coaster, that one I didn’t see coming. Hopes going way up, then a drop off straight to jagged rocks.

Have you ever been stood up on a date? That’s what I feel the let downs in the publishing business are like. Would you date much longer if every prospect stood you up? With some stamina, you might. And by doing so, you also might spiral into depression without even knowing it.
My first major rise and fall was a short story under a pseudonym that had the endorsement of a very famous author…an author whose works inspired an HBO series. Pretty cool, huh? Well, my story didn’t sell squat even though I promoted the hell out of it. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads—I beat all those up trying to get my toe in the ‘exposure’ door.

Later, another plane that got off the ground only for a sweet moment was a manuscript written with a friend that a pretty big editor requested.  I know editors are overwhelmed. The biz is tough. But we got stood up. No response.
There were a lot of these ups that so far have ended on the down side. Talk to any writer who has been submitting for a while and you’ll hear similar stories.

So we dust ourselves off and get back on the horse, right?
Well, whereas Tattoo Rampage had something truly magnificent happen with it (and I'm still very thankful for), the behind the scenes is fraught with mishaps including what is apparently my failed promotional campaign. I haven’t been myself because of it. This dip came as quite the body slam and I haven’t rebounded yet.  

To my credit, I am still writing. But it’s all I have tolerance for.  I’m working on another manuscript—an even more Hollywood, high concept idea—and a comic book with my kid.
As for ending on a positive note, I think of Willie Nelson (I’ve blogged about him before because of his brilliance and persistence).  I recall that CBS launched a television program under his name back in the 60s. It was kind of like the Porter Wagoner Show. Willie only showed up for one taping. Tell me that he wasn’t a little fed up with the biz to walk away from that, LOL.

But he kept coming back.
And one way or another, that’s what I’m going to do. But for now, I’m only writing, maintaining my business friendships as best as I know how to in this mind set, and waiting for the funk to slide off of me. Do you feel like you slip to the dark side when the big ones crash? Do you think I have a point with the pursuit of success being directly proportional to the blues? After all, it has pretty much been summed up that happiness is wanting what you got, not getting what you want.

Gusto Dave


Janet Fogg said...

I didn't expect the roller coaster ride, either. On top of that, imagining the worst is part of what writers do, and so ingrained that I think many of us throw rocks at ourselves as readily as we cast characters off a cliff. Keep on writing, (Willie) Dave. It's what we do.

Anonymous said...

Dave, writing cannot make you happy, people cannot make you happy...only YOU can make you happy, and this sounds trite, but it's true. Apologies if I'm getting too personal, but, I hit a deep depression a few years back, for a very short time, but it was weird how deep (and short) it was, but it gave me a new perspective. You're going through a rough patch right now and you have to find out why that is, whether through tough introspection or seeking help elsewhere, but I do entreat you to figure this out and not let it drag you down. Being depressed is nothing to ignore.

As to the publishing part, I'm actually glad I never got those book contracts! It would have killed me with all "they" want and tell you you HAVE to work life just didn't allow for that kind of activity at the time. And I question whether I could pull off 24/7 promotion in my current situation! This is why I love being Indie published. I do what I can when I can, and I don't have some agent or some editor beating me with phone books and rubber hoses telling me I'm simply not doing enough! I know it's easy for all of "us" telling you what you have to do, but you have to look inside and see what you feel you have to do. We're just trying to help you out with obviously have some stuff going on that needs rectification, and we're here for ya, but maybe stepping back and taking a break might be in order?

Do not ignore the depression. Seek out the help you need. I'm here if you wanna talk.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Depression seems to be an epidemic these days, and maybe writers are especially vulnerable because we're such sensitive creatures. For me, I think it's the waiting that drives me nuts more than the unattended signings and less than amazing sales. I credit my fantastic support group of local writers for keeping me sane.

Julie Luek said...

And months after the post, as I'm cruising the blog....

Having read Tattoo, I'm glad you're not giving up on writing. Sure is easy to feel battered in this industry though.

You've been through a lot in the last year. Hanging with the friends who love and support who you are rather than what you do (or have failed to do) is key, I hope.