If you’re lucky, one day, you climb out – through a cold and empty attic – onto the mental roof, see all the leaves that have piled up, cover your eyes with one arm, yelling, “Goodbye, Cruel World!” (or “Cowabunga!” which is my personal fave when jumping off imaginary rooftops) and jump – and of course the leaves catch you. You can’t quite end it all – not even in your imagination. The whole thing strikes you as so ridiculous that you begin to laugh.
This isn’t “major clinical depression.” This is just a glimpse into the mental processes of a writer who isn’t experiencing writer’s block at all, but simply cannot work up enough enthusiasm about anything to pick up a pen – even a fountain pen. Who feels nothing on realizing that the ink is in the cartridge has literally run dry – and now clings to the nib in flecks and flakes. “Oh, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?” A writer who cannot even muster the energy to exercise fingers on the keyboard finger-stepper except to click “Like” or “Share” or type “Hah, yeah.” An award-winning commenter who, upon skimming the most thought-provoking of blog posts, manages only to eke out, “Nice post” and resents CommentLuv (normally their favorite plug-in in the whole wide world) for enforcing a minimum word count that no longer seems an entertaining challenge, but a chore. Okay, fine… “Nice post. Whatever.”
It’s not unhappiness, sadness, melancholy (although, if you can work up one iota of any of those feelings, you kind of know in the back of your head that there’s still a very real hope for climbing out of the well of ennui and lassitude, at some point). That well, of course, is as dry as the nib on the fountain pen. It’s a very dusty dry that feels like an attic and smells like a root cellar. Except that, if you’re a writer, the only word you can think of to describe it, when you’re in it, is dry. The phrase “dry as a bone” crawls contemptibly through your brain; you kind of remember that clichés are the enemy, so you just keep it to yourself in the certainty that nobody wants to hear it anyway.
That isn’t a pity-party, by the way. It’s not a “nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I’m going out to the garden to eat worms,” kind of thing, that “whatever.” It’s the certainty that no one wants to see a friend whose love of language has been reduced to shrugs and eye-rolling and simple words like, “Meh.” So you keep it to yourself, hoping they’ll still be around when you’re ready to floccinaucinihilipilificate* the whole thing.
When you’ve finally bored yourself half to death with your “meh-ness,” you think of the roof and the leaves and the smell of October and apple cider and you leap – not into the arms of death (or anything half so melodramatic, because, remember, this is just a minor depression – nothing suicidal, just nothing particularly life-affirming) – but into the giant mental leaf-pile that you hope (a tiny fraction of a second after yelling “Cowabunga!” or “Cannonball!”) doesn’t contain a pitchfork.
And somewhere, at the crack of dawn, you hear a leaf-blower.
* Supposedly, the proper form of the verb is “floccipend.” Whatever. 😉
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