Depression and the sophomore slump

While I finished what is technically my fourth novel a year ago, more and more I am thinking of The Book Of Lost Doors as one big story in four acts. I didn’t set out for it to be that, but that’s how it turned out.  So I think it’s fair to call what I am going through now a “sophomore slump”.

Part of it–a big part of it–is that I have serious doubts as to if I can do it again. BOLD brought together ideas that had been germinating for decades.  I started out with a lot to say, about life and love and madness and the universe and what it means to be a small thing in a night that is large and full of wonders.

Lately, though, I have been wondering if I have said it all.  I mean, maybe all that I have to say has already been said, and BOLD is my last word on the subject.  Any subject.

I put a lot of work in the cosmology of the series.  I drew on sources from William Burroughs to Charles Fort to Robert Anson Wilson to H P Lovecraft.  I put a lot of myself in James & Catskinner. His story is, in so many ways, my story.

And maybe it’s the only story I have to tell.

I won’t say that I haven’t done any writing over the past year.  I’ve written a number of short stories, two of which are damned good and the rest are at least fair.

But I have tried to start a half dozen or so novel projects, and every one of them has just… died. I started off strong, but after a chapter or two I lost interest.  And if a story can’t hold my interest, then how can I expect a reader to slog through it?

I do realize that a lot of this is depression.  I have had a very rough year, for reasons that I don’t really want to go into here. I’m exhausted.

But I have managed to work through exhaustion before.  Much of Cannibal Hearts was written during some very low points in my life (you can tell which parts–the funny bits.  I only laugh when I am trying to keep from crying.)   Heck, depression hit me during all of my prior novels.  It’s a cyclic thing with me.  I get depressed during those months that have weeks in them.

It’s more than just my brain chemistry.  I’ve lost my faith.  With BOLD I was driven.  I was like one of those ragged people you see standing in bus shelters in bad neighborhoods, who need to tell everybody how the Illuminati stole their tinfoil hats.

I don’t feel like that any more. And I miss it. I miss James & Catskinner, Samuel and Russwin, Agony and AJ and Nancy and Suzie.  I can understand why authors will stretch out a series to dozens of novels. I won’t do that, though.  Those characters were part of something that is over, done with, finished.  I owe it to them to let them leave the stage while they are still.. pure.  I can’t put it any better than that, the feeling–no, the certainty–that if I tried to force them into any more stories they would end becoming caricatures of themselves, like the Universal Studios monsters.  I’m not going to write Abbot & Costello Meet Catskinner. 

So what now?  I don’t know.  I know myself well enough to know that I’ll keep writing, here, elsewhere on the internet, to friends, for the occasional story collection or magazine. I have the skill and I enjoy utilizing it.  But I don’t know if I continue to try to be a Writer.

I think perhaps I’m done with that.  To those who read and enjoyed The Book Of Lost Doors, thank you.  It means a lot to me, I put my heart and soul into those books.  And I wish I could give you more, but I don’t think I can.


About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
This entry was posted in Artists That I Admire, Book Of Lost Doors, On Writing, Who I am and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Depression and the sophomore slump

  1. paws4puzzles says:

    Hard to hit like on this, but I understand.

  2. LindaGHill says:

    Me too. I understand.

  3. Dave Higgins says:

    You don’t have to give anyone anything.

  4. I know this feeling all too well. Dickinstein creatively exhausted me and I still haven’t bounced back now three years later. Another book may or may not come and that’s okay. Accept it. My only advice is to find something else that satisfies your creativity. Start a new blog. Write your memoirs long hand. Write poetry. Draw. Paint. Read. Whatever it is, do it everyday. Embrace it. And if the old muse creeps in with a new story to tell, listen. If it doesn’t, move forward with your newfound passion. Either way, you are going to create something and you will be okay.

  5. -Just L. says:

    I think those feelings are normal. I have felt similarly after finishing writing a group of songs for what would be called my albums. As Stephen King says, “It’s hard to begin”.
    I find my biggest block these days is my desire to have peace and refrain from the offense many take that know you personally that read themselves into everything you put out there. It get tiresome and brings up many things you do want to say about them. I say hang in there, and keep on keeping on. Be well. -Just L.

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