Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.
I don’t consider myself the long-suffering type. I didn’t figure it out until after my teenage years, but it’s much more fun to be happy than miserable (I was a slow learner, I guess). Regarding my writing “art,” I don’t think that suffering will make improvements (aside from butt-in-chair strife), so I don’t fret that trying to have a happy life will cause my stories to have less depth.
To make the most of my day, I often write while at lunch. The mall foodcourt is a great place for me to get creative. The skylights are awesome, and the white noise is perfect for me. It helps that I can watch people, but no one expects me to interact with them. (It’s okay if you think this is weird. It’s tough to explain.)
So there I was, delighted that I was getting through a tough scene that had been evading my efforts in previous weeks. I was writing longhand because a change of pace, writing slower than I type, helps me find the rhythm to get the words on the page. It was a serious scene, but as I said, I was delighted it was going well.
When I got a tap on my shoulder from a concerned older lady, I was quite confused (and annoyed, but I try to be polite to my elders). She asked me if I was okay and if there was anything she could do to help. Eventually the old lady explained that she and her friend were having lunch when the noticed me. They became worried that I looked so sad and distraught and wanted to make sure I was okay. Apparently I had this horrible expression on my face as I was writing. (So embarrassing!)
I told them I was a writer, and I was working on a book. At this news, the old lady stopped worrying about me, wished me luck with a good-natured pat on the hand, and left.
I was more confused than ever. Did being a writing make my horrible expressions and distraught mental state okay? They seemed to think it did. Do we as Americans think it is okay for our writers to be depressed? I don’t consider myself to be Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, or Ernest Hemingway, but it bothers me what we accept that creativity has to be tied to depression and mental illness. I don’t think that I should suffer for my art or that other people should either. In doing some light research, it seems to be a common opinion that creative minds have a tendency to become unwell. I consider myself to be a very creative person, so this attitude is rather disturbing.
What do you think? Are creativity and mental illness linked? Is the attitude Americans have towards creative minds okay? I’d love to hear some opinions.