Why I Write (2)
In my last posting I examined the subject of why I write, but left something crucial out. It seemed to me it deserved to be a separate item because although essential it is harder to fit in alongside external influences.
In addition to those things external to my poets mind, I think there are internal forces at work that determined my course towards a poetic life. Many of them probably so integral a part of my personalty they are effectively invisible to me.
Notwithstanding the difficulty of ascribing particular peculiarities of mind, and traits of character or thinking, as influences, in my own case there is one thing that I feel justified in giving a separate place in my description of what made me write poetry―I am a depression sufferer.
I now realise this as a lifelong affliction, but I seem always to have had effective coping mechanisms. After a while I recognised that these bouts were artificial to my usual way of looking at things (though I do tend to the gloomy). When they happened I told myself that this was something that would go away, and any feelings associated with it should be treated with caution. I cultivated a way of looking at it as if it was a separate person and not part of me. At this stage I must add, as I did in my previous post, that it is not easy to be sure about these things, we provide ourselves with narratives that make sense of what we are experiencing, but cannot so easily be sure they are the plain truth.
It seems to me that I have always understood the necessity of using the dead weight of depression rather than just letting it sit on me. I think of this as mental judo. As mentioned, I try to think of depression as a person separate from my own identity. The aim of mental judo is to use the weight of this other person against them. In effect to turn it into the energy that writes a poem. How to explain that? I'm not sure I can, mental judo is the only way I have found to describe it, and at times it can be impossible to achieve. At such times I have other methods (for example viewing myself, and my daily progress as if I were seeing myself from another persons standpoint, and assessing how I feel about myself from an objective rather than a subjective point of view), but there is nothing better than turning negative feelings into something that gives you hope, and belief in your own coherence and viability, like a poem.