I’m sure no one’s noticed, but my internet activity has undergone a distinct downtick in the last month. Everything in my life has slowed down: writing, socializing, reading, etc. It feels insane to ascribe this to wintertime blues, since it’s seventy-two degrees outside and extremely sunny, but I think that’s what it is, and I’m sure that come April or May, I’ll be able to taste the sweet again. But at this moment in time, it’s a bit hard. Lately, I’ve taken to bailing on social occasions by just telling the host that I just don’t feel emotionally up to it. Please don’t give me any advice on how to feel better about things. Suffice it to say that I am doing all the stuff that a person ought to do. In fact, when in doubt, just assume that I am perfect in every way and have everything handled.
Thankfully, my current writing task is to go through my editor’s exhaustive second-round notes on my book and make a whole host of little changes, and that feels like something I can do right now. In terms of producing new work, though, I’m feeling pretty useless.
I have no idea how depressed writers produce anything. Personally, when I write, I make heavy use of my faculty for ‘feeling emotions’ and ‘thinking that life matters’ and, without those things, I feel pretty lost. I can write words, but I’m not able to understand what makes this story worth telling, or why anyone would want to read it. I’m sure that I’ll write another book eventually, but at this moment, I find that hard to imagine. In fact, it’s strange to think that I was ever able to write books.
I don’t know what I’d do if I was under contract for something right now. Probably I’d just go ahead and produce something. Maybe it would even be worthwhile. I don’t know, and I’m glad I don’t have to find out.
I remember now why I drank: it made the time pass.
Without that, the heaviness of time is almost unbearable. Hour succeeds hour, and each one is as blue and immense as the one before. It’s not that drinking made me happy or that it was enjoyable. It was that it was something to do. A way to make something happen. Getting drunk feels a lot like accomplishing something. It’s difficult. It’s strenuous. It eats up hours at a time. It involves physical exertion and, oftentimes, travel. But, even more than that, it’s an emotional journey. There’s trepidation, initial exhilaration, then the long slog, followed by a climactic moment, and then the long falling action.
Other activities don’t do that. Watching TV doesn’t do that. It distracts you, but the rhythms of television are too much like the rhythms of life. Each hour is the same as the one before, aside from the steady waning of energy. Reading, while diverting in many ways, requires too much concentration. And music? I actually don’t know if I even like music. Nowadays even when I’m driving, I prefer to keep the radio turned off.
Luckily, I’ve found the thing that’s better than drinking! Computer games! You heard it from me first: computer games are better than drinking! I’ve started playing this game that my friend Chris recommended: Sunless Sea. It’s actually not very good. In a lot of ways, it’s a bit of a grind. But it makes the time pass. Let no one ever speak a word against computer games. They’re fantastic. There’s nothing else in the world that’s like them. They’re inexpensive. They engage your entire mind. They take up hours of time. And they cause no physical or mental side-effects. The only downside is that they’re a bit vapid. Try as I might, I don’t believe that I’m really gaining anything from the hours that I spend ferrying a bunch of pixels from one place to another place so that I can click on some dialogue options that will give me some plot tokens that I can use to unlock different dialogue options in another place. The whole experience is akin to having sex with a spreadsheet. But it passes the time!
I’m also growing a beard. It’s not a depression beard, though. It’s a well-trimmed and extremely manly accoutrement that I happened to decide upon at the same time as my mood took a downturn. And that’s me. That’s life.