I had a realization yesterday that should have occurred to me before. It’s not really surprising that I went a year between blog posts because I went a year between major depressive episodes. There was a time in my life (prior to my cognitive dysfunction) that I could write anytime, and anywhere. My biggest problem was the coming up with the anything. I didn’t know what to write. I always claimed that I wrote the best research papers but hadn’t been able to write anything original yet. It seems that since the traumatic brain injury, I can only write when I am depressed.
Which is kind of a disheartening realization because writing had been such an important part of my previous life. I guess it’s good to have this outlet during my depressions but I have felt the void of it in my life when my mental health is more stable and healthy. It doesn’t quite seem fair that being content should deprive me of one of my favorite past times. On the other hand, is that too high a price for contentment when it’s escaped my grasp for so much of my life? Two sides to every coin.
There was a time, 6 or so years ago that I actually had a novel idea. For a novel, in fact. It was shortly after my daughter was born and the idea was for a children’s book. I was shocked that this happened and eagerly starting researching and laying out character ideas. This was about the time that my mind started to fail me. I’ll cover that journey a different time but long story short, I couldn’t make any headway and eventually gave up on the idea of pursuing it any further due to my incapacitation.
But now, I’ve started to write again. First the most recent blog post. Then I read 2 screenplays, Stoker (fantastic) and it’s prequel Uncle Charlie (amazing). I realized that while I might not have the capacity to write a novel anymore (too many words I don’t have anymore, too much detail that would hurt my mind to come up with, too much time and focus required), I could write a screenplay. They are more immediate. Simply feelings and situations and dialogue without all the detailed descriptions of emotion, motivation, backstory and world building necessary for the kind of novel I wanted to write. I believe myself capable of this goal. Those are two things that I’ve grown unfamiliar with. Having a goal and feeling myself capable.
But a distant but familiar problem arose. What the hell was I going to write about? What do I know about screenplay writing? What do I know about making movies? I went to bed last night, with a knot in my chest full of my desire to write something but completely at a loss as to what that could be.
Cut to me waking up in the middle of the night. Having taken my sleep medication again (another story for another time) I lay there, hearing my heart beating, feeling my body breathing and relaxing my muscles in preparation for sleeping again, I started thinking about what it is that I know. What it is in my life for which I would have passion and devotion and the words to express. Like it was floating out of my subconscious, it hit me. I already had a screenplay inside me. I started to think of the details of 2008, one of most eventful years of my life. It started out the worst year I could imagine and ended on such a joyous note. Without any scheming or contriving, the plot perfectly lay itself out in my mind. I have to say, I was overjoyed. I immediately saw the first scene and then the last. It was hard to sleep after that, with so much whirling through my head, but sleep I did (eventually) and first thing this morning I pulled out my laptop and started to write.
I have scenes set out for the first and second acts, character profiles started, important conversations mapped and the first scene started. I have a lot of work to do. I have a lot of research to do. But I have a goal! I have a plan! I have a passion again! And even though my body is still depressed and my chest is full of anxiety, I have this kernel in my head made up of satisfaction and expectation and initiative. Even a little bit of joy.
But will I be able to write if I’m not depressed? Will I have the motivation to seek an outlet if I reach contentment again? For now, that remains to be seen. Maybe it will be different now having a concrete goal and an idea that I’m so excited about. Even if it never comes to anything, I miss the feeling of accomplishment and look forward to feeling that again. Even if it’s in bits and pieces. One thing I know for sure is that I want this. I really do. Every bit of determination in me, that has had nothing to work toward for the last 3 years, is rearing and ready to go. I’m ready. And I’m gonna do this.