Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Stars

Writing, as it has been seen by me for a long time, is therapy. Far better therapy at times than even medications because words weave their emotimancy in both directions, the receiver on the other end and, more importantly, the writer. Words, when used properly, can be crammed full of everything we are feeling. Each one becomes an evocative scent, a nascent dream, or a landmine. That is the writer's job as far as I am concerned. To tell a story, and all the levels that entails. Characters are only people so long as they are made up of all the elements that people need.

But writers have to be careful. Sometimes emotions, when we try to express them, aren't under our full control. This applies to most people. Snapped comments said in frustration. Thoughtless jokes. Painful remarks made in anger. These are all traps we are familiar with. But the writer sits, word after word, mired in a soup of emotions that, if left unchecked, will consume them. That is the trouble when dealing with pain and sadness. It eats at you even when you try and work around it, so it becomes dangerously easy to drown when you decide to dive headlong into it.

That is where my rut came from. It wasn't that I had that infamous catchall of 'writer's block', it was that I had burned out all of the feelings that I had dealing with personal crises and then trying to write personal stories dealing with the same feelings.

The same can be said of depression. It is so generally misunderstood that the very word has become synonymous with 'sad'. But it is so much deeper than that, and is another mental mire to get stuck in. To want to flail wildly at the word but not feel the energy to move your arms. You sit and see the water coming in through the holes of your world but instead of plugging it you sit down and let the water rush over you.

It isn't a sad feeling, depression. It is a hopeless one. An all consuming apathy. It is being tired, but not in the 'hard days work' or 'I'm sleepy' way. It is a fatigue akin to metal parts tearing and giving way after years of over use. Of a tire going flat as the last tread is torn from its bald surface. The shirt that finally tears along its threadbare seam.

It is a powerful force, and one that is easy to get lost in. I would like say that depression is not the opposite of happiness, but of passion. Passion is that beautiful burning flame that we all try to tame lest it consume us and depression is the near absolute snuff of that flame. It is the cavernous brazier where once our lives were filled with heat, light, and power. It moved us to greatness and filled our lives with illumination. But it cannot be relit like a campfire no more than one can relight the sun with a torch. It takes the right conditions and the compression of hydrogen and helium to ignite a star, to bend space and time around its core and project light, the fastest thing in the known universe. Without it there is no life as we understand it. There is no sight. It is one of the single most powerful things that our minds can understand.

The same is true in writing. Every syllable you type finds you dealing with the powerful forces of the human heart. Each phrase and paragraph, every page and punctuation talks to the deepest parts of us. It reaches all the way down to where the star that birthed us still resides. But like all things deep and beautiful, it is easy to get lost in.

So write your words. Let them guide and help you, and if your readers follow along then all the better. Use them to help you find that star and then let it light your path home.

It is like Sagan said: "We are made of star stuff."

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