The other day The Boy and I were watching an interview with Stephen Fry in which he went into detail about his battle with bipolar disorder, and it occurred to me that bipolar is a good metaphor for the writing life. Now, I don’t mean to make light of bipolar, and I’m not saying that writing is anywhere as serious or debilatating as bipolar – I just think it is a useful parallel.
For those who don’t know, bipolar disorder is characterised by two states: The low state, which is deep, deep depression, terrible agony, and the high state, which is a state of intense euphoria. (This is a very unscientific description, derived wholly from the interview). In one section Fry said that he found it interesting in talking to other bipolar sufferrers that very few of them, if they had the chance, would give their bipolar up. This is because the ‘high’ state of the disorder is just so wonderful it’s worth all the suffering they experience in the ‘low’ state.
I find this interesting because it has firm parallels with what writing is to me. Writing (well, the revision side of it, anyway) is really, really hard. Last night I had a big talk with The Boy about how miserable writing has made me lately, and how worried I am that I’ve made the wrong decision, that writing won’t fulfil me like I thought it would. But the thing is, what I was saying wasn’t entirely true. Revising Tiger Eye HAS made me miserable, in parts. But it’s also made me elated, joyful and fulfilled, in parts. The important thing is that I learn to manage those low moments, because I wouldn’t give up those high moments – the inspiration, the good writing days, the intellectual fulfillment of creating a good story – for anything. And last night The Boy helped me to do that. He really is amazing.
But for those moments where The Boy isn’t around, or for those of you without husbands/wives to encourage you, this may be helpful. It’s a collection of all ‘s butt-kicking posts – at least that’s what she calls them, but they’re more encouragement than butt-kicking. Scroll down for the one about deep sea fish.
I won’t let the fear of failure stop me from making the journey. Who’s with me?