About Me

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

My books

The first two novels of my trilogy, The Talismans, are not available as e-books at present, but I expect to get them back online shortly. However, I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Cloak of Challiver

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Gippsland, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong, Australia

Places I've lived: Geelong,  Australia

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

Places I've Lived - Sydney

Places I've Lived - Sydney
Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier

Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
Blue Lake

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day

Places I've Lived: Perth by Day
From Kings Park

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night

Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
From Kings Park

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Versatile Blogger Award

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Sunday, 28 October 2007

Writers, Depression and Addiction

This has been a busy week. Every day I've had at least one commitment that entailed going out, and I'm one of those people who can't seem to write and function out in the world as well – so no writing and very little editing has been done. I know some writers who manage to hold down full-time outside jobs or have enormous family commitments and still manage to write something meaningful every day, but not me. One well-published writer of my acquaintance says you can train yourself to do it, but so far my psyche refuses to co-operate. I need at least three days of down time with no human contact to get any useful work done, writing-wise. I do think that by nature, writers tend to be loners.

Apropos, over at Storytellers Unplugged, Richard Steinberg has written a piece called "On being not-too-bright" which touches on the idiosyncrasies of writers. Steinberg says "I know (meaning know well) thirty-seven professional writers. In reviewing the list, I discovered that four of them could be called happy pretty much all the time, two others were happy more often than not, one pretends she’s happy to please her husband and children, and thirty were pretty much depressives on one level or another, like me." He also touches on the well-known predilection for addiction often mentioned in connection with not only writers, but creative artists in general.

I posted the link on one of the mailing lists I subscribe to, with some interesting responses. One lister said "I think the world created a romantic but distorted ideal of the writer and artist being alcoholics, drug addicts, and tortured souls."

My feeling is that the "tortured souls" part is the essence of it. Happy people don't become alcoholics or drug addicts, AFAIK. Mind you, there are not many truly happy people about and the ones that are often simply delude themselves. Life is hard, and I think the creative part of us knows that and longs to hold up a mirror to it. And for some, turning to drugs or other addictions is one way to hold the inherent misery of life at arm's length. Addictions do not, however, make one more creative and often they have the reverse effect.

In other words, the creative urge springs from our recognition of the harshness of life, often because circumstances made us realise this harshness from a very early age. Addictions spring from the same place. Not infrequently, the two go together, but many such people realise that their addiction hinders their creativity and take the necessary steps to overcome it. For most of my life I was the archetypal co-dependent (although I did go through a phase of abusing booze myself) but it wasn't until I'd done several years' work on myself that whatever little creative flair I have stuck its head up and asked "is it safe to come out now?"

I posted these thoughts to the mailing list and had three interesting responses. One lister said "Actually, as one pretty well versed on the subject, I believe that addictions are genetic." Another said "The writing life - hours alone, unpaid, unsung, the longest apprenticeship in the world - is enough to drive anyone crackers," and also "addictions are a way we avoid problems instead of dealing with them."

You know, I think all the above are true. They are three ways of approaching the same topic. It's a bit chicken and eggy, really. Writers - in fact all artists, I think - tend to come from dysfunctional families, which are often dysfunctional because of a genetic tendency toward addictions. This situation turns out loners - who wants to be with people when being with people causes so much pain? - and spending so many hours alone just makes folks more and more eccentric. And we learn fairly early that getting involved in a creative project is a great way to forget the pain. It's just another addiction, in some ways.

What do you think? Check out Steinberg's article. It will make you laugh and make you cry.

6 comments:

Marilyn Z. Tomlins said...

Satima -- I'm one of those writers who can only work if I am totally alone: I mean, I can't even have anyone in my apartment with me. It wasn't always like this because my husband used to be here (I am a widow now), but I think living alone has caused this to happen. Therefore, when I have a relative/friend staying over I have to take those days off.
Marilyn

Satima Flavell said...

Me too, Marilyn - I try to plan my week around four working days when I do not go out barring flood, fire or earthquake, but it can be hard to get four clear days with no appointments whatsoever. Of course, I can always edit if the muse has vanished:-)

Silly Yak Tales said...

I can't have anyone here but the tv and the cats. I am used to working and living alone. But considering I have been off work 3 weeks with a lung thing, I have not written a word, bad me.

Satima Flavell said...

It's hard to work while you're sick. I've had bad hayfever these 3 months past and all I've been able to think about is when I'll be able to breathe again! I hope you're back on your feet now!

Jo said...

I don't pretend to be a writer like some of you, but when I was young (oh so long ago), unhappy and full of youthful angst I used to write reams of poetry. Now I am happily married and living a stable life, not a poem anywhere. Annalou says my blog is the repressed author in me.

Satima Flavell said...

Yeah, bogging is a great outlet, Jo. Unfortunately it's a great displacement activity as well so I tend to use blog-touring as an excuse not to write:-) Maybe you're beeing sensible and just blogging without trying to write!

Ah, those angst-filled teenage poems! I would be so embarrassed to read mine now!

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