E.E. Smith has a post over at Psychology Today about the top ten careers with high rates of depression. As you might guess, we scribes hit the list squarely at #5:
Writers, Artists, Entertainers: Those of us in this category -- so-called "creative" people -- complain of irregular income, odd hours and isolation. Depression leads some to become bipolar.
Hmmmm. On the other hand, we so-called "creative" people may be living very fulfilled lives, thanks to our ability to adapt to almost any situation and make do with what we have to reach our goals.
So which is it? Both? Neither? Equal parts of each? The writer of the depressing careers list admits to some personal experience with depression; did that factor in to putting our profession on the list? Or this other guy who thinks we're so adaptable -- can anyone really know what the creative mind is like by observation?
Such mixed signals are not uncommon. Every day is a gift, we're told. Be the change you want to see in the world. Forgive and forget. There are a million more motivational sayings for creative people floating around out there. They're nice. We want the writing life to be nice.
That said, we all know that every day is not a gift. Some days are nightmares that turn into weeks and months and years of struggle, misfortune and unhappiness. What you change may be something other people didn't want changed, and you find this out only when -- surprise -- they're running at you with torches and pitchforks. Also, how do you honestly forgive and forget the kind of stuff that requires absolution and amnesia?
Yes, the writing life -- or any creative life -- can be difficult, lonely, problematic and at times very depressing. That life can also be joyous, comforting, as easy as breathing and an endless source of delight and satisfaction. I know that I've lost enough of my writing life to misery, and what it's taught me is that I have better things to do. I have things to learn, ideas to explore, and worlds to build. I have people to love, and to entertain, and to help get through their dark times just as they've helped me get through mine.
I thought a lot about what both writers said, and I keep coming back to one thing: I have stories to tell. That's always been the center and the foundation of my writing life, and as long as I have that I know I can deal with anything else that comes along.
What do you guys think? Should writing be ranked as one of the top ten depressing professions? What other careers do you think should have made the list? Let us know in comments.