Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘writing and depression’

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Imposter syndrome

When I first got to college, I was pretty sure that I was an admissions mistake. My roommate was one of Glamour‘s College Women of the Year. Another girl downstairs played piano with the Philharmonic; the guy down the hall was almost sixteen. A guy on the first floor held two patents. You get the idea. Even now, I occasionally get the feeling that I am a complete fraud, and I have no idea how I managed to convince people I had anything worthwhile to say. In my worst moments I suspect I will get a phone call rescinding awards […]


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Optimism for the new year

On New Year’s morning this year, I was sitting at a kitchen table in Cleveland, Ohio. I grew up in Cleveland and love it, but (like most people) in the way you love your old rusty car with the duct-taped mirror and muffler tied up with a string, or your dingy old house with the drafty windows and the sagging roof—both of which are, unfortunately, all-too-common images in the city of Cleveland. To top all this off, we were in town visiting a seriously ill family member and had spent most of the past few days in a hospital room, […]


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Open a book, become someone else

A Lithuanian bookstore has created a gorgeous campaign called “Become Someone Else” (“Pabū kuo nors kitu”) showing the transformative power of books. The Love Agency, the advertising firm that created the campaign, has all of the images up online. (Via GalleyCat.) And there’s evidence that books have literal (ha ha) transformative powers as well. A study in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine finds “each increasing quartile of print media use was associated with a 50% decrease in the odds of having MDD,” or major depressive disorder. In other words, the more teens read, the less likey they were […]


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The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers, Second Edition, by Betsy Lerner

After its publication in 2000, the first edition of Betsy Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers became one of my students’ favorite writing books, and over time it became my go-to gift to graduating seniors with whom I’d formed a special bond, and whose persistence I hoped to bolster in those daunting years ahead. I even kept a small stash of copies in my office. So it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to this second edition, published in October 2010.


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Sad Scribblers?

GalleyCat reported a few weeks back that a piece in Health magazine listed writers on a list of 10 careers with high rates of depression. The original Health list says, of artists, entertainers and writers: These jobs can bring irregular paychecks, uncertain hours, and isolation. Creative people may also have higher rates of mood disorders; about 9% reported an episode of major depression in the previous year. This is by no means new territory, there’s long been a body of study around the artistic teperment and depression, including Kay Redfield Jamison’s article “Manic Depressive Illness and Creativity” from Scientific American […]


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Moscow's Dostoevsky-Themed Metro Stop

Subways are not known for being bright and cheerful—but Moscow’s new Dostoevsky-themed station takes subway gloom to a new level. The Dostoevskaya Station opened in June in northern Moscow as a tribute to the famed Russian author and features murals based on his works. Here’s one from Crime and Punishment: But some worry that the grim, black-and-white murals will have negative psychological effects on subway riders. NPR reports: Mikhail Vinogradov, who heads a psychological help center in Moscow, went on Russian TV to complain that the murals will make people “afraid to ride the subway.” Like other psychologists who raised […]


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Fighting (Writerly) Fatigue

Maybe it’s summer—too sunny out to work inside!—or maybe it’s just the 80º+ weather in Boston, but I’ve been feeling a little… tired. Just in time, Paperback Writer has a post on how to combat fatigue—physical, mental, and, most importantly for writers, creative: Creating on demand, always being on, always being told we’re not good enough, we’re not successful enough, and we’re not doing enough. I’ve been working this gig for twelve years now and I can tell you this much: the pressure never ends. I understand the siren song of all the hype that’s attached to things like social […]


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"This Book Made Me Want to Die"

Here’s a great blog post from FWR favorite Aryn Kyle, on writing “happy literature”: “You should write something happy,” people tell me, and I don’t understand. Happy like Anna Karenina? Happy like The Grapes of Wrath? Happy like Lolita or Catch-22 or Revolutionary Road? Happy like Hamlet? What, I’d like to ask people, are these “happy books” you speak of, and who is writing them? I was an English Literature major, for sobbing out loud! I’ve never read a happy book in my whole life! Unless you count Jane Austen, who could usually be depended on to wrap things up […]


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The Upside (?) of Melancholy

We’ve discussed the links between depression and creativity on this blog before—from a report that some schools on Nantucket were banning “depressing” literature in response to high rates of teen suicides to Anne’s reflections on “When Writers Stop Drinking (or Start Taking Meds, or Start Reading Peter Kramer).” Jonah Lehrer’s recent essay in The New York Times Magazine investigates this question from a different angle: whether depression has an evolutionary purpose. For some unknown reason, the modern human mind is tilted toward sadness and, as we’ve now come to think, needs drugs to rescue itself. The alternative, of course, is […]




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