The writer can be a difficult creature, and it can be difficult to be you if you are a writer. It’s not just the career that is difficult to manage, it’s the self. The writer cannot write in a vacuum, for nothing can survive in a vacuum and no-one can exist all alone, as a great writer of the modern age has written. A writer might start one novel, get it nearly finished, and then scrap it entirely because it lacks the edge, or the content just isn’t powerful enough, or the writer finds that the story is not the one that he wants or, more likely, needs to be telling. Many cannot comprehend how such a process could work within one’s mind; after all, how coudl one bear to just throw away something that he had poured his soul into for months or a year or more?
It is possible, also, to have your life disrupted as a writer in such a way that you cannot do your work. If a writer is going through a painful divorce or is grieving some close personal lost, that negative energy can shut down your entire creative process. Most people do not understand this kind of thing, for they are used to being able to go to work and not have their work all that directly attached to their personal life. Sure, everyone might have to have a few days off for something of a deep loss, but for the writer stress and anxiety and grief can shut down everything. Work is not an escape for writers, it is intimately entwined with their lives and entangled with their purest emotions. It is an expression, not just a j-o-b. The writer pours himself onto the page, sometimes for hours at a time, and this activity can become choked to death by grief.
Yet at once, as a writer you learn to hold on. You hold on with hope, even in the midst of a a stultifying depression. One writer I know of stuggled to write a second novel, which can be a scary proposition in its own right (the pressure is on to follow up the first’s success or quality with something of even higher qualtiy or which sells even more copies), about the story of the aftermath of the suicide of an artist. This was a labor that was not gruesome or dark entertainment; it was meant to writer her own character, even though she was not committing suicide and had not considered it; she was in the aftermath of a horrible loss and it felt like she was dying at many points along the way.
This was exceedingly hard for her. Not only was she fighting through a clinical depression, but she also had to show the world ugly parts of life, or parts of herself that were supersensitive and at which she felt a certain revulsion at showing the world. But at once, she felt compelled, felt that she had a mission to do this sharing. She realized that while the writer has to work deeply in order to give the readers something that is worth his time to pay for and take the time to read, this deep work often involves showing things about yourself that you don’t necessarily want others to know about. This is how we face the void as writers. We don’t try to fill it, we let it out and make art out of it. We hold on. We let ourselves know that the dark night of the soul, too, passes away.