‘Open up MS Word a lot’
The Acquired Inability to Escape, Damien Hirst, 1991
From The Outlet:
1. After you move back home to work on your novel, slump into a depression. Feel like nothing really matters. Open up MS Word a lot but don’t type much. Make a video for one of the two stories you wrote the year after grad school, which feels silly because stories aren’t about videos.
2. Go to your new psychiatrist. Tell him you feel depressed. That isn’t normal, he says. If your medication was working properly, you would only feel depressed when something depressing was going on in your life. He wants to up your medication.
3. Decide fuck that, you’d rather be mildly unstable than incredibly doped-up on psych meds.
4. Your self-loathing from moving home to write a novel but not actually writing a novel kicks in. You start writing. You don’t really feel like you know what you’re doing, but that’s okay because nobody knows what they’re doing when they begin a novel.
5. At some point, late at night, when you are supposed to be working on the novel but are instead just obsessively ruminating about your life, look back at the past year or so and realize you have been cycling between periods of low-grade depression and low-grade mania. You had previously blamed your mental instability on the fact that you’d recently gotten sober and sometimes it takes a while to adjust to living life not-fucked-up.
6. Go back to the psychiatrist. Tell him you’d like to try new medication.
7. Continue working on the novel. It isn’t an enjoyable experience. The only joy you get from it, really, is watching the word count go up in the little sidebar of MS Word. The sentences aren’t coming out right; they aren’t in your “voice.” The dialogue feels canned, like some bad YA novel. Tell yourself this is okay: it’ll all get fixed in the revision process. A part of you knows this can’t get fixed in any revision process. Wonder if it is possible to finish the book by next June, which is the deadline you’d given yourself.
8. It’s January now.