correlation or coincidence

hey-lo, Lee! long time no see.

so i was entrenching myself in writing blogs- as you do- when the subject of depression came up. the blog i was reading very matter-of-factly mentioned that writers often suffer from depression. there was no fanfare or preamble- it was stated as common knowledge. because it is. which lead me to the following questions:

the more writers i meet, the more similarities i see. i know this is true of any hobby/profession, that the participants tend to adopt similar tendencies and thought patterns. but i don’t know that other hobbies/professions tend to share similar neuroses. i mean, do bowlers tend to suffer from the same kinds of road rage? do they sometimes sit down, beer in hand beside a fellow bowler and say, “Man, I nearly rammed three people on the drive here. I’d really like to slam other drivers in the face.” not that bowlers are known to suffer from road rage. to the best of my knowledge, this example is purely fictional. but the point remains: what’s up with writers and all this anxiety and depression?

i mean, i’ve yet to run into another word nerd who doesn’t occasionally descend into a pit of despair or have a “worst anxiety attack story.” i’ve literally sat down at a round table full of strangers with nothing in common but an affinity for media journalism, said “man, i don’t know what’s up. i’m on the verge of an anxiety attack today,” and literally everyone at the table nodded empathetically and we started sharing calming techniques. i don’t know about you, but i think that’s pretty fucking weird. and i doubt suicide-attempt stories are the kind of yarns swapped at the local knitting circle.

what is it about us writerly types that makes us more prone to these neuroses? or are we more prone to these neuroses? maybe the bowlers and the knitters and everyone else just doesn’t mention it.

one of the things we writers are obsessed with- by virtue of the craft- is emotions. the how, why, when, depth, and breadth of emotion. who’s feeling, what are they feeling, and how is it best conveyed? we make up people with entire histories- entire lives- entire social networks- and we know all of the things these people feel. we “flesh them out.” a saying that verges on the literal, we put so much complexity into these imaginary people. we know the actual shape, size, color and quality of these people’s physical qualities. we know the scent of their skin, and what it feels like to run fingers through their hair. we know how they felt on their sixth birthday, and their darkest shame, and their most painful memory. is it just that in talking about these fictional yet oh-so-real people, we end up in related conversations about our own lives- about ourselves? i feel like i know more about the emotional landscape of my writing group than i do about my co-workers, and i’ve been working in this office longer than the writing group has existed.

i don’t know if someone has already looked into this and i’m just late to the party, or if i’m in a cultural bubble seeing a correlation where there is none, but i’d like to talk about it. is there something going on? is there something strange about the writer brain? or am i just ignorant to myriad other factors?

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