A place to write, a stack of scratch paper, and a cupful of pens (and a dog–Polly in this case)

So, I have a theory.

A few theories.


This past year is probably the most difficult I’ve gone through since I was diagnosed with depression.

Summary: Twenty years ago, I tried meds. They helped for a few months, then turned on me (which is not the same as Timothy Leary’s recommendation to be turned on by drugs; depressive episodes often result in my dropping out of just about everything though, so maybe they’re related after all). After the drugs went south, I got some alternative and effective help. For many years I lived a life almost free of the disease. But like cancer—does it really go away? In the past decade I gradually became accustomed to summer SAD, then autumn SAD, holiday SAD, Spring SAD. This year it was finally difficult to find a significant number of SAD-free hours almost every day.

Theory 1

It’s important to keep busy.

Service helped a ton. I sewed teddy bears and knitted arm and leg warmers for young hospital patients, and crocheted edgings on baby burp cloths. Service helped keep me doing things, but it didn’t cure the problem. I began sleeping a lot, was even too tired to knit while watching Perry Mason. Gave up making teddy bears.

I tried to learn to sew doll clothes. (Sub-theory: it’s not a great idea to attempt conquering your Waterloos in a depressed condition.)

Theory 2

I needed treatment.

I got treatment.

At the beginning of Feb I started a natural remedy and now life is improved. I mean, I’m to the point that most of each day Sue is not SAD but HAPPY (Having A Productive, Progress-oriented, uh . . . Year?).

Theory 3

This may be due to the change in season.

May be.

Theory 4

Letting other people read my writing was good and it was bad.

Years ago I had an art teacher who said, “Don’t show your art to everyone. Once you do it’s like it’s in the public domain and [unqualified] people think they can say whatever they want about it.” She was pretty much right. I came to loathe the expression, “Oh, I love that” because it was always preceded or followed by silence regarding my other apparently unloved work. I much prefer hearing what’s good about a thing. “I love it,” is a kind of self-centered expression when you think about it—I mean, how do you accurately reply to that?

Turns out what’s good for art is also good for writing. I wasn’t ready for the public to read and comment on my work (I wonder if anyone ever is). Few people are qualified to make helpful comments on someone’s writing, and, in my experience, fewer ever bothered to say anything at all.

(Funnily enough, I have a much tougher skin, or heart, about my artwork than my writing.)

Like those things that don’tkillyoubutmakeyoustronger—it was good that I experienced this pain so I could learn not to show my writing where it isn’t wanted.

Theory 5

Giving up writing was a failed experiment.

Sub-abstract: Why I Gave Up Writing—there were gobs of contributing factors. I don’t want anyone to feel guilty, so don’t, Anyone. Dealing with depression, criticism, and feeling like I would never fit into Today’s World of Youth Fiction Publishing did me in.

Last spring I quit writing. For good. I was successful too, ruthlessly refused to explore story ideas that crept in. But I had to remember Mad-eye Moody’s words, “Constant vigilance!” The urge to write never, ever went away. I would take walks and tell myself, “Don’t think of stories to write. Don’t remember all the stories you’ve invented as you walked along these paths.”

What a lot of work it was to not write.

Theory 6

Writing makes me happy who I am.

There’s a lot to be said about being true to yourself. I am a writer. Every day Facebook shows me memories from my past four years of active membership. There are almost always one-to-many posts on the joy I found in writing.

I can live with people not liking my art—or only “loving” one piece out of a hundred. I can live without people liking my writing. I can even live without readers. But apparently, as a book without an Index is only half a book, my life without writing . . . well, it isn’t even half a life at all.

Theory 7

Giving up writing again will result in a return to depression.

Theory will not be put to the test. On the seventh theory we rest.

Case closed.


4 Thoughts on “The Theory of a Few Things—the pen is mightier than I

  1. Jerri Ison on 23 February 2017 at 2:00 PM said:


  2. Robin Hutchinson on 23 February 2017 at 2:51 PM said:

    You are brave.
    Some people never learn what it is that they -must- do in life.
    I’m not a writer, and, though I love words and meanings and am inordinately tickled by puns, I’m not very adept at using them to express my self. But I totally get the depression part.
    Thank you.

    • Thank you too , Robin. Oh, life is so tough, isn’t it? I cycle through these identity crises every several years. It’s such a relief when the downward spiral slows and you get a fighting chance to make a breakthrough. I hope by documenting it, maybe I can help someone else. But, yeah, I guess mainly I just had to write about it.

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