No Need To Kill Yourself
When I first sat down to write this post, it was meant to be a light hearted piece of advice to budding writers, both young and old. I was going to jokingly advise that just because a few famous author folks had done themselves in, over the years, there was no need to follow suit in order to be successful. This is not a case of, any PR is good PR. Because dead is dead, and forever is forever. Then, when I began to do a bit of research to share about a few writers who had checked out early, well, it turns out that there is an absurdly long list of writers who have killed themselves, and they’ve been doing it for a long damn time. It momentarily made me wonder if perhaps writing was not such a healthy outlet after all.
This got me thinking. If I was going to hold a famous writer up as a mentor, or as someone who I wanted to emulate, I would think that there would have to be some criteria other than their writing accomplishments. High up on the list would be, were they a good person? You know, were they nice to other people? Did they do anything to make the world or their neighborhood or just people around them a little better off by having them around? In short, were they assholes or were they good people? A shithead is a shithead, even if he or she can write.
I’d also want to know that they were thinking folk. Not that they necessarily needed to think about the big stuff in life like, who is God? But I would hope that they were someone who was not constantly on the receiving end of, “You’re joking, right? Do you think before you say stuff like that?” Being clueless moron is not a good trait, especially if you’re going to share your thoughts and ideas with the reading world.
Since we’re talking about celebrities, because famous writers fall into that category, it would matter to me whether or not they constantly said or did or wrote absurd chatter in order to garner attention. There’s writing talent and then there are media whores. I have no respect for the latter.
And here is a big one. I would want to know that my mentor took care of themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Why is that so important to me? It’s important because I don’t want to become a famous writer who drove myself to alcoholism and addiction and chronic depression… or suicide, all in the name of art. Writing is my good space. If it drives me over the edge, then I’m doing it wrong.
On a completely different, but mildly related note, in our brave new world we often use Google to research whatever we’re writing about. So, wanting to research some famous writers who checked out early, I read a couple articles and then moved onto the next one. When I clicked on a link for “Famous Writers Who Killed Themselves,” a story came up, but before I could read it, a full-screen advertisement for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie popped up, and all I could mumble was, “What the hell?” An entire computer screen with dark blue clouds and bright yellow and red and green letters, and the four Ninja Turtle dudes doing their thing with swords and other stuff, jumped out at me. There was even a link that I could click in order to see the Mutant Ninja Turtle movie preview. It’s a long jump from suicide to Ninja Turtles. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it was my understanding that the great electronic brain in the cloud is supposed to spoon feed us ads that we are likely to click on or that have some relevance to the subject being read. I was researching Author Suicides and got an ad for a children’s cartoon movie. I’m still trying to make the connection. The second ad was for antidepressants, which made sense. Big Pharma rarely misses a chance to drug up the world to put a little bit of cash in their pocket. I was a bit surprised when no porn or gambling sites came up. I’d think those things might strike a chord with suicidal writers.
In the end, all I can say is that a lot of writers took a shortcut to the ever after. I have no idea how that worked out for them. The truth is that none of them knew how it was going to work out either. Maybe the lesson here is that nobody’s writing ever got better because they contemplated suicide. The two things are completely unrelated, no matter what the cool, deep thinkers try to tell us while they gulp scotch and chain smoke cigarettes. And the other even more important lesson is that if writing depresses you, find another hobby. There is no big law out there in the universe that says that you have to write.