Much has been said and written about the relationship between creativity and what some of my online friends call being 'mentally interesting'. We know that many creative geniuses (or should that be 'genii'?) struggled with mental health issues of various degrees, whether caused by overconsumption of alcohol or drugs, or just by the vicissitudes of life. It's a fine line between having brilliant ideas and having frankly crazy ideas, and those of us with the sensitivity/insight/eccentricity to feel deeply and to write about it, are also prone to feeling more deeply than we or those around us can cope with. Do you, in fact, have to be a bit mad to be a creator, whether in words or other media?
In the first six weeks or so of my MA course, every week's seminar made me more inspired, and the poems, or drafts, were pouring out at a rate of knots. In the last week, though, I haven't even done much of the prescribed reading, let alone write a ghazal or a villanelle (I think I may have a villanelle gestating now, but it could turn out to be a pantoum...).
Every writer, of course, has fallow periods between the rushes of inspiration, even if you don't struggle with the depression I've lived with for over 40 years. No one can be brilliant all the time, especially at breakfast. Mental interestingness, however, just complicates the matter. I've learned ways of thinking and being that help moderate the impact, but I can't say I'm 100% cured, and maybe it is best not to be - I wouldn't want to be cured of having lots of good ideas, even if the price is the occasional tumble into no ideas at all. George Herbert is one of my consolations; his brilliant poem The Flower describes so perfectly the feeling of being in the darkness and then coming out of it again:
And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing. Oh, my only light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.
If one of our best Christian poets had times when he could neither praise nor write, who am I to complain about the occasional fallow time? I'd happily undergo the depression if, when I came out of it, I could write like him...