Quitting Might Be a Symptom

I’ve never actively quit writing on the whole, in the sense that I actively made the decision to stop writing. I have, however, let life overwhelm my desire to write and stop me from going on. I’ve also quit writing fanfiction, which I love, because I thought it was the ‘more mature’ choice. (I’ve since started again.)

Both sucked.

Good news: neither was permanent. If you read nothing else in the big anecdotal love-fest that’s about to go down here, then take this: Just because you’ve stopped, doesn’t mean that you can’t start again. If you’re suffering from the lack of creative output, then stop suffering and start writing again.

I’m not going to talk about life events that disrupt the flow of writing, except I’ve got to talk about one: getting pregnant and then having a baby. I got all knocked up in June 2008, and it sort of threw a wrench in my, um, life. I stopped writing for about a year, started toward the end of my pregnancy, because I figured I’d have no time for it once the baby came.

This became a sort of weird mantra for me, and it only got worse after my son was born. I think I wrote here and there, mostly ideas and stuff, but I was never able to summon the motivation or the right words. Mostly I just sort of cruised through life and went through the motions. For two reasons.

1. Being a new mom sort of encompassed my every thought. I have always wanted to be a mother; between working two jobs and getting on-the-job training with the whole mom thing, I didn’t feel like I had time for anything else.

I spent a lot of time watching television and movies. I hung out with friends, when I could and when they could stand to be around my with babies on the brain, while I talked ears of about breastfeeding, diapers, and sleep training. (Incessantly. Obnoxiously, even.)

2. I was depressed as fuck. I am the sort of person who smiles through bad moods, and uses words like “bad moods” when I’m thinking things like, “There’s no reason to get out of bed ever.” A lot of my family sort of does this, so maybe it’s an inherited trait — but I cannot be as gregarious with my bad moods as I am with my good ones.

I tell you this, because all that is why I never went to a doctor and said, “Um, I think I might have a wicked case of PPD.” (That, and I was uninsured. Oh, the joys.) So when faced with all the ups and downs of parenting and depression, I did nothing. I had no motivation to write again. I had no motivation to do anything, and a million excuses not to do it. You know how they say you don’t worry until the dog stops eating? Well, the same ought to be said for when the writer stops writing.

I’d love to tell you more, but honestly? It’s all sort of a haze. I just remember that one day I felt like I woke up. I began to write again and it was like breathing for the first time. It wasn’t until much later that I looked back and went, “Oh shit, that was not healthy.”

So, consider that friends. If you think you’re not writing because you’re depressed, don’t just sit in it. Get some help. Reach out to someone. It’s no good, and you shouldn’t have to hurt alone like that.

Ashley M. Hill found her voice in science fiction when her curiosity about technology coupled with the lifelong urge to tell stories. Her interest in social and feminist issues shapes how she approaches the genre. She's pursuing computer and network repair for her day job.

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