The lost cave of the depressed tortoise

I was running through some old files on my computer, looking for articles to re-publish here on this site and came across this rather peculiar piece. It was apparently written in March 2017, exactly a year before I hit my ‘trans-breakdown event’ when things started making sense and the world became, for a while, very exciting/scary.

I had entitled it ‘Cavewomen’ and I don’t think I ever did publish it anywhere. So, if that is the case, here is a piece of something, a bit of the jigsaw puzzle of my life which I continue to complete, even while it grows around me. It’s the second part of this piece (Getting stuck) which surprised me as I read through it. It has the hallmarks of something I wrote quickly as if I had meandered off my main theme and gone introspectively deeper.

Cavewoman (from 2017)

Where do you write? Is it in some special place? Or can you write anywhere?

Writing is such an intense activity, where in order to go forward, the writer’s universe needs a greater light of intellect shone upon it than reality. So we talk about ‘locking ourselves away’ as if we were prisoners of our art (ahem – not arrested due to bad writing! I have so far avoided that indignity).

In my case, I use the cave metaphor. This does not have to relate to a strict place; yes of course I have my writing desk at home but I write in lots of other places too (at this exact instant – 07:52. Mark! – I am writing on a train). So, my cave is actually something I mentally put around me, an entry lounge into my own private universes, my imagined worlds.

So why not think of it as a cloak? A bubble? A set of pyjamas? A comfort blanket?

The answer is that you can think of it was you want. You can have a physical ‘cave’ hideaway or an entirely mental one. You can dress up as a teddy-bear if it helps make that connection and isolates you from reality. (Okay, dressing as a Teddy-bear suggests you really are isolated from reality. Or really enjoying yourself … ) You may not think of it at all, but even so, I would bet that as you lay down your words you are in some zone, not entirely part of the real world. This is especially true of a fantasy writer.

Wherever you write, you will look to place yourself into a ‘transitional space’ or maybe a ‘transitional mindset’, a zone where you can focus on the world that you are writing about.

Getting stuck

So here is the thing. I recently got stuck. Maybe I’m still a bit stuck.

For a few months, I think I’ve just carried my cave with me everywhere and kind of psychologically refused to come out. I wrote a lot and I functioned as a human being (eating, sleeping, talking, walking dogs, etc.) but I wasn’t fully engaging with the world. I didn’t mean to hide away but I most certainly did. I wasn’t happy.

How does this happen? For me it’s a case of fighting the good fight: My depression is against the real world, my joy lies elsewhere.

I worry that I may be getting a bit more like that all the time! Maybe the real world isn’t nice enough. Maybe I’m too sad to come out. Maybe being stuck in there is making me sad. I don’t know.

A tortoise sticks its head out now and again and I’m trying to do that. Please forgive me all if I’m just a bit reclusive sometimes.