Comic Insights Part 5: Motivation Amid Crisis

As an insecure person, finding the confidence to undertake a large creative project with the intent to publish it is difficult. Imagine then the difficulty of doing so during a global pandemic, a rapid increase of social unrest, and a major depressive episode that began long before either of those issues surfaced.

Being introverted and comfortable with being alone for long periods of time, (and also not having to work in retail), I thought quarantine would not be so bad for me. Like many creatives, I thought it would provide me the much-needed extra time to focus on my work. However, being alone and being lonely are two completely different feelings, and loneliness was much more detrimental to my productivity than I could ever have imagined.

Maria Popova explains this issue further in her article, Virginia Woolf on the Relationship Between Loneliness and Creativity. Woolf more poetically describes this debilitating lonesome feeling, and how it can settle into a person even in a crowd of others. Even when a person acknowledges their blessings and privileges, this terrible feeling still pervades.

“How I suffer. And no one knows how I suffer, walking up this street, engaged with my anguish, as I was after Thoby [Woolf’s brother] died — alone; fighting something alone. But then I had the devil to fight, and now nothing. And when I come indoors it is all so silent — I am not carrying a great rush of wheels in my head — yet I am writing… And it is autumn; and the lights are going up… and this celebrity business is quite chronic — and I am richer than I have ever been — and bought a pair of earrings today — and for all this, there is vacancy and silence somewhere in the machine.”

Writing during a pandemic is nothing new. Neither is writing during a civil rights movement. And of course, the image of a depressed writer writing depressed writery things depressingly is pretty much a job description for anyone considering a degree in creative writing. Perhaps there is a reassurance there, that famous people from long ago felt the same way writers like me feel today. However, what I take away from Woolf’s words in my current state is that if I want to get my creativity out there, I need to learn to work through these dark periods of the mind.

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