If you’ve read this site for long enough, you’ve seen a full range of emotions from deepest, darkest despair to, um, let’s call it “marginally upbeat.” (If, as some have suspected, I’m actually bipolar, I’m certainly not symmetrical.)
I mention this because D. G. Myers, while composing a sendoff for the late Wilfrid Sheed, turned up this Sheed quote on commitment to one’s writing:
Writing survives everything, even the most paralyzing depression. Recently I came across something I had to write in this condition and found it surprisingly ingenious, like a chicken dancing with its head cut off. Technique can apparently cover for anything short of rigor mortis.
I’m not within screaming distance of Sheed’s league, you may be certain, but having gone through the archives on a regular basis, I am persuaded that my writing does not significantly deteriorate on those days when I’m despondent.
And Myers points out:
Only a certain kind of writer understands this, a writer for whom a high personal criterion of style is non-negotiable. If you never permit your style to flag, if you never lower your standards for the parts of speech, you might even endure the worst of patches.
So the next time someone asks me why I’ve been on this soapbox for fifteen years, I’ll simply point out that I’m trying to save my life.