Is everything you write depressing?
This is a question I’ve been asked a bunch recently. Maybe it’s because I’ve written enough stuff by now so that when someone asks to read my work and I send them waaaay too many short stories, they feel a bit overwhelmed.
Maybe it’s because most of what I write is kinda dark.
But there’s an element of writing that really puts your proclivities on show. Also, as a novice writer, I haven’t got the skills yet to write things that don’t just flow. Everything right now is instinctive, not strategic. And kinda depressing is my, well not happy place, but safe zone. I’m good at depressing. I’m depressed.
I don’t mean, like, I’m a bit down right now. I mean clinically, absolutely, I have depression. And it’s not like I hide it or anything. It’s not exactly a shocker then that I write it. So it came as a bit of a surprise to me when readers (good friends) were, like:
can you write things that aren’t depressing?
My first instinct was: no. You wouldn’t ask someone with cancer to just not have it. You wouldn’t ask someone who sunburns easily to just, you know, not get a burn when they’re out in a canoe. Why are you asking me to not be a downer?
Then I clapped back at myself and was like, sure. I mean, maybe. If I can think of a happy story. There must be some of those. Somewhere. Right?
But now I’m back a bit full circle. I probably could. I will certainly try, even if it’s just as a writing exercise. But also, maybe just no. I mean, I’ve never read anything by Margaret Atwood that’s not dark and/or depressing. I’m not saying I’m M.A., or that she’s depressed — we’re not buds, I’ve never asked. But you expect it from her, right? She examines social issues through stories, and so, yeah, they’re kinda mostly sad. And there are writers who absolutely manage to bring hope and happiness to their writing, like Becky Chambers, so I know it can be done. I’m just not entirely sure it can be done by me.
But I’m willing to give it a go.
How’s that for positivity?