Sunday, September 9, 2012

DEPRESSION AND WRITING: How to turn the shadow on itself.

One week ago I had an extreme bout of depression. Real life intruded into my fiction work and drove me to the point of quitting my passion once for all. I will not bore you with the details or the motives behind this dark moment; suffice to say I was struck by an extreme writer's block.

I was starting two different novels (a Sci-Fi and a Pirates one) and had just put down my 'setting bibles'.
A setting bible is like a companion to a writer's novel; in it I put everything concerning the fictional universe I'm creating. So, when I wrote 'Feeding the Urge' I created the whole town of Prosperity Glades, filled it with interesting inhabitants, then developed a timeline of its most unusual or historical events from Pre-Spaniard times to these days (Prosperity Glades is set in Florida).
Same goes for Echo, a planet distant 50 light years from our solar system - the setting of that Sci-Fi novel - and for Caliban's Cove - a mysterious island in 1720 Caribbean Sea.

Nonetheless, I found myself unable to write a single word. Stress and pressure from my strained relationship was slowly turning me into jelly. Sure as water I was going to stop writing and retire to premature confinement to the nuthouse. I was so depressed and angry that I stormed off my traditional Thai wooden house and went for a solitary stroll in Ao Nang's deserted midnight roads.

And out of the blue - or the dark, to be precise - a simple line came to my mind:

'Under cold, indifferent stars, I stand.'

Now, to someone of a perfectly sound mind, that would just mean, 'Hey Jeff, you're depressed. It's natural you get such dark thoughts.'
But to me was different. I could hear the buzzing of the Great Radio inside my mind scanning frequencies and trying to tune on a particular voice. It was the voice of a dead man.

I hurried back home and wrote that line on a Word's blank page, then, the dead man began telling me his story. During the whole night I wrote the first part of it, then I realized having misinterpreted the first line.
An I changed it.

 'Under cold, indifferent stars, I wait.' 

The next day I spent relaxing, avoiding writing at all costs. That darkness I felt was slowly fading away, and I was scared that such a distant, and feeble voice would stop telling me the whole story.
I relaxed myself by doing a cover for what I had titled 'Haunt'.

Slowly, and painfully, I tried to go on with the story, but there was something missing. My rage.
And I used it.

New images flooded my mind and the tale became something so weird and haunting that ... well, it scared me. A Shade, some anchors, chains, and freaks. And everything became clear.

Then, I made a new cover:

Well, the story is over, but you won't read it soon. I sent it to my lovely editor Natalie G. Owens, then I'm going to submit it.

I believe in this story, because it's not mine.
It's from a dead man.


  1. Well done for your honest account of how you felt. It can happen to anyone but it looks like you've come out stronger than ever. Keep it up Jeffrey!

  2. As a reader, I am very glad you heard those words in the night. You have a passion for writing and stifling your passion can not be good for any person. I hope this picking up again of the pen finds you stronger, braver and more determined than ever.

  3. Jeffrey, I understand about depression and the pain it can cause. I am so glad you were able to work through it and finish your work. I know it will be one of the best yet. Now come sit beside me while the stars tells us another story.