I saw a number of posts last month about writing and depression, or writing your way out of bad places even if you weren’t actually depressed. Lots of comments about friends who’d lost their jobs and thrown themselves into crafts and so on.
That’s been my experience too. I was very grateful for your support last September when I confessed about my depression (which is still being held at bay, surprisingly, given a stack of things going on at present), but I was talking to someone about writing and whether I still painted, and I said no.
I used to paint when I was on holiday. Paint and read. My favourite thing was to take my pastels and go off somewhere and paint the scenery. I didn’t have a camera at the time, so maybe it was my way of doing souvenirs. Certainly I have (or had, since I cleared some out when I moved) a range of scenes of foreign parts (and other parts of the UK), some of which are framed and hang on my walls. One job I had, I lived in a bedsit during the week and came home at weekends; it wasn’t the easiest place to work and I have a few quite good pieces I did in the evenings to help me let off steam. The focus on a creative project really helps the mind relax, and restore one’s sense of self, I think.
I knew I wasn’t the only one, since our art society was full of people who had retired, voluntarily or not – and most of the younger ones were in the ‘not’ category and might be just looking for another opportunity but up against the age barriers. I remember one guy in particular who really threw himself into his artwork, and he was fabulous, really wonderful creations. He said he’d never done anything like it until he’d been made redundant, and it helped him keep his sanity. I have one of his pieces, and examples by the many friends I made through that club, in my room behind me now – in case you ever wonder about the group of paintings in some of my ‘at the computer’ photos.
So why don’t I paint now? I haven’t got time. I think the writing has taken the place of painting as my creative outlet. Maybe, like my painting, I’m kidding myself as to whether it’s any good. In fact, as with my painting, some of the early writing is probably perfectly okay, very nice, then it becomes more experimental, and sometimes it might turn out to be rubbish, but maybe if I keep at it long enough it’ll turn out well. Thinking that through some more, maybe I ought to put more time between writing something and publishing it, even on the blog. Or does the immediacy of the flash fiction forgive the pieces that don’t work? Does it help me learn?
Musing on this issue made me wonder whether I’m currently in a spell of writing as an antidote to the other things going on in my/the world over which I have no control. Well, if it staves off depression, I’d better just keep writing. And learn from the process instead of expecting it to be perfect every time. Although I found it impossible to write creatively when in the first stages of grieving this weekend. I think I’m moving forward with that, though.
Whatever you find helps you to be creative – keep doing it!
PS If you remember a few months ago I was upset that some trolls had given me 1 star on all my Goodreads books – well, I’m delighted to see they’ve mostly disappeared (the 1 star ratings from trolls, that is). Relief!
Next month’s IWSG will be in the A to Z Challenge. Not sure how I’ll incorporate it, but I’ll try.