Write Before Thinking

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Empathy

While I have heard of David Foster Wallace, I have yet to read any of his work – though from what I’ve heard, the man was brilliant (keyword being was, for as some of you may know he committed suicide in September).

In my book Wreck My Life, readers are introduced to the protagonist, Will as he attempts suicide. He rationalizes that his suicide has been preordained; that it’s something he’s always known he’ll do; something he can’t help but do. And while I’ve researched the depressed mind, while I’ve come to empathize with it, it really wasn’t until I read an article in Rolling Stone about the life of David Foster Wallace that I really understood the torture it subjects its victims to.

To say that it is sad that the world lost a voice like his would be a gross understatement. However, the true tragedy is that despite the therapy, despite the awareness, despite the support of family and friends, David Foster Wallace knew his depression would eventually win. That the outcome was inevitable.

Often, those unaffected by depression make light of mental illness and accuse the afflicted of being nothing more than weak-minded individuals looking to blame something other than themselves for their failures.

For some, the cliche of the troubled artist is nothing more than a joke, a stereotype to laugh at, but for too many the reality is far worse. For some, the very depression that slowly erodes their soul is the fuel for their creativity and while some seek treatment, others feel that by killing the depression they’ll also kill their creativity; that depression is a necessary evil – an intermittent black cloud not welcomed, but tolerated.

My friends and family like to kid me about the fact that many of the themes I write about tend to be dark and troubling. I laugh with them and try to justify why I find such topics to be more engaging and interesting: they don’t buy it, we move on and I’m left wondering why it is I really enjoy writing about such morbidly troubled characters. Is it because I’m depressed? Am I really the cliched struggling writer? Or is it simply because the minds of the troubled are a hell of a lot more interesting and dynamic than those of the blissfully happy?

The correct answer is probably all three.

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