Where do stories come from? Where do they go? Can we ever find them again?
Depression has been a shadow that has followed me for many years. I was never one to show much emotion, as disappointment has a way of making you protect yourself from another. But what I lacked in outward charisma, I made up for in words. I began writing music from an early age, finding melodies came easily for me. Later, in my teens, I began to see how I could make words melodic. It became my secret expression.
Writing kept me alive. It was my steadfast source of hope – the belief that my stories could say the things I could never express in person. I hoped for publication both as a way to liberate me from tasks other than writing, and as a way to show people my thoughts and ideas as they truly are, unfettered by my inhibitions.
I have not yet been successful in publishing my work, but in 2012 I began work on my fifth novel. There was something different about this one. I was dealing with issues as deep as the ocean – love, emotional instability, helplessness. I saw that this book coming out of my fingers was more beautiful that anything I could have envisioned. I had the real sense that I wasn’t writing it, which is the sense I believe must be present for true art come.
I was a few months in when my life changed. My writing slowed, and I began to revise other work, fearing I didn’t have the talent to finish this novel. Then, one year ago, depression took a deep hold on me. And with the depression, the ability to write died.
So many times I’ve stared at the pages I’ve written, certain that I’d never read them before. I try to write something new, only to seemingly break what had been assembled. There are no more stories in my head. Nothing seems worth writing anymore.
It is now 2016, and my story is almost four years removed. I’ve been able to find my voice again on earlier work, but on this story all that’s left is cloudy images – disjointed – of people I once knew like friends. I wonder where to go from here. My mind feels full of cotton, heavy, unfamiliar. Does a writer die before the person dies? How can I revive a part of me that was the best part of me, a part almost no one saw? Where did it go, and will it ever return?
These are answers I wait for. But this part of me I had hidden on pages of words is, in fact, all I really ever was. Without it, what kind of man am I? I ask myself every day. My gifts were unused until they were gone. And now, there is not even regret. There is not sadness or remorse. There is a constant and abiding nothing. I have nothing left to understand the world by.
Perhaps one day this story will return to me. Perhaps I’ll never know.