Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Writing Through Stress

I suffer from a nervous anxiety disorder, an unspecified one, which naturally manifests itself at stressful times. Lately I’ve been overwhelmed with anxiety trying to sort out my financial situation while remaining reasonably sane. It hasn’t been easy, since I spend many days fretting about meeting rent payments, waiting for money to come into my account, licking and stamping correspondence, and so on. Over the last few months I have also had problems finding a place in the world outside writing words, to the extent I am scared to do anything else, i.e. in the world of work, and I now find it impossible to picture myself in any paid employment. This problem has lead to ongoing counselling sessions to try to reduce my fear at confronting the world of money-earning.

But this isn’t a woe-is-me post, this is a post about writing through difficult times. When I have a problem that is wrenching me up inside, I tend to fixate on the problem until it goes away (temporarily), and then I can either move on immediately, or slowly over a day or so. I fear this disturbs my writing life, much in the same way it interrupts my attempts at being normal—i.e. trying to look for work or engage in the outside world. I sit down to write something but feel overwhelmed at the thought of making another piece of work come together—I think this partly stems from my MA where I had to think very deeply about the purpose for writing a story in the first place.

I feel sometimes all I have to say, generally, is that life is mostly quite hard but with occasional good bits. Where are the complexities in my work? Do I need to be employed in a range of badly paid jobs before I can gather the necessary experience to write stories with meaning and significance? When I had badly paid jobs in the past, I never wrote about them at all. Literary realism is not my bag. I only want to write about people like myself who are terrified of living. To understand why people participate in world. How, beyond having to make money, do people find the urge to get up and work all day? Is all human endeavour motivated solely by money and fucking?

At the moment I can feel my anxiety eating into my writing confidence, which is not a source of any pleasure. On a happier note, my story A Disquisition on the Erogenous Impulse in Prose Narratives was recently published at the excellent Martian Lit. And another piece written for the tenth anniversary of Piker Press, The Wonderfully Fecund World of the Hendersons was published there today.


  1. Thanks for sharing this - I suffer from anxiety too and it's always good to know I'm not alone. In the end I've been very lucky and got a great job on the internet. I'm sure you'll find a solution that's not just financially stabilising but in some way rewarding too.

    I really enjoy your writing precisely because you write surreal (?) stuff about people who are terrified of living. Personally I don't think you should ever feel pressure to write anything else. It's a good goal to have.

    1. Thanks, Zoya, nice to hear from you. I'm learning to feel at home in my writing style after a few very erratic years of experimenting and failing. I always had a style that felt comfortable to me and it has been there all along, but it was learning to lasso it has been my education. I think that made sense.

    2. I'm looking forward to seeing where it takes you :)

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