The titular concept is something I’ve mentioned in passing on here before, but I’m not entirely certain that I’ve gone too deeply into what it truly is. The idea is that after finishing up a big creative project there’s this hole that you feel within yourself… I first became aware of this concept during my time on the stage. After months of working on a show, suddenly you’d find yourself without that creative outlet and would literally enter a state of depression, not wanting to go outside, not wanting to interact with anyone, just feeling downright down.
It was a big issue, one that even has its own urban dictionary page. I had always found it to be an odd feeling. Most of my friends in the theatre made it seem like it was really just that you missed being with your friends and having that time every day together…or this whole weird thing about how you go from the rush of being on stage to having absolutely nothing going on except eating ice cream in your underwear while watching Get Smart re-runs.
Since I was barely employed at the time and the theatre is always in need of males, I barely ever had to deal with the true effects of this feeling because I would just do shows back to back. In fact, for most of my theatre career, I didn’t really know the feeling all that intimately, because I was seriously just never done with shows.
But then I began my own creative projects, realizing that if I ever wanted to make a career as a creative, I really needed to find my own voice and put it out there…and I made my first movie. And I hated it…well, hate is a strong term. I actually thought the movie was okay. My writing should have been a ton better and I really, in general, don’t like to watch myself act (which causes one to question the casting I did for my second attempt at a feature).
I finished that movie and hit a severe slump. Slump is probably an understatement. I went into full on depression. Sure, there’s something to be said for my unhappiness in the final result, but, to be honest, I’m a bit of a perfectionist about such things and, well, even with my books, which I personally believe to be great books, I’m generally unhappy about them. Outside of the rare acting gig I might have picked up after that movie was done, I did almost nothing to express myself creatively for a couple years. I shut down, depressed…It wasn’t until I began working on my second feature that I finally felt that depression begin to lift.
It wasn’t until very recently that I actually started realizing the source of depression that I would have following the end of creative projects. It’s always been that same post-show depression, that sudden complete drop off in creative expression that causes my body to absolutely shut down. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that creative expression is incredibly important for me. We can debate all day and night as to whether my creative expression is something other people actually want to enjoy, but the truth of the matter is, my brain is addicted to creativity…and I get a severe case of the DTs when it doesn’t get its fix.
Fast forward several years of non-expression and I found myself sitting in a place where I was at my lowest point, actually allowing myself to go in for diagnosis and prescription of anti-depressant medications. I was low. It was about a year after finishing up on my second movie (a movie that I believe I personally did even worse on than the first. The brilliance of everyone who helped out on that movie feeling diminished by my failures on the project all throughout.) I was working my first real job in, well, pretty much ever…a boring desk job doing boring things, but getting paid quite well for it. Actually, for the first time in ages, I had money, I had insurance, I had paid time off…and I was as depressed as I could be.
When the haze finally began to lift (thank you big pharma) I found myself in a place where creativity was at its highest. Suddenly a whole host of ideas were flowing into my brain, simply because I had been forced out of my funk and my brain wanted to live.
That’s the moment I actually began official work on The Legend of Buddy Hero.
But here’s the thing, I still had no clue what was going on…didn’t until rather recently, in fact. I finished Buddy (the early early version) and found myself slumping once again. I went low. Of course, at this same time I had begun receiving rejections from literary agents (not realizing how absolutely atrocious that draft was, I had thought I could try to sell it) and felt, once again, a failure. But that wasn’t the actual issue. I just didn’t know it.
I spent almost a year in that funk, maybe longer…before I finally was inspired to work on The Agora Files.
And again the routine continued.
I’d work on something, get on this major high while working on it, and then suddenly when I’d finish, the bottom would drop out and I’d find myself wanting to sit in a dark corner.
The Agora Files might have been what ultimately saved me, though, as it was the first time where I began receiving responses from people where their excitement over what they had read (whether or not they were happy with the ending) was so genuine that I had a difficult time just brushing it off as them not wanting to tell me the bad news that it was crap.
The Agora Files saved me because it was the moment in which I decided that I really wanted to put all my effort into being an author. And so I returned to the process, first by heavily re-writing Buddy, at the same time as finding other author friends, re-writing Agora Files and ultimately deciding my fate as an author.
But here’s the thing…I still get that post-show depression…and it wasn’t until this past week that I actually realized that this was the case. Every day I don’t spend some time writing, or creating, or whatever, it can easily be defined as a bad mental day. If you’ve seen me with a scowl on my face, it’s probably because I didn’t create. I spent the second half of last week taking some time off from the hard work of writing, deciding to start up again (on my new book) on Monday. I don’t want to say I was angry or anything. I believe I had a rather enjoyable weekend with my family. But this dark cloud hung over me. A dark cloud that lifted right after I began writing the first words to The Right to Liberty yesterday.
After years and years of going through these highs and lows, fearing that I may suffer from some odd form of mania, I’ve found the problem. I must create, or my brain will break.
It’s taken me thirty+ years to understand how my brain works.
And apparently, in order for it to work, I have to keep writing…whether anyone else wants me to or not.
You have been warned.
Have fun out there!