Written by Ethan H. Gaines @lastbestpress


If meeting someone new isn’t daunting enough for an introvert with anxiety and depression, the usual question comes up: What do you do? I hesitate to say anything because while I do have a job it’s not my career. My career path is, obviously, a writer but only in fairly recent years, I’ve considered myself a publisher of sorts. But when I tell them I’m a writer and run an independent publishing company, that’s where the conversation gets interesting.

They ask what I publish or write and ask about the income. I don’t answer that last one. I don’t know if this is true for every writer out there, but I feel like writing is almost like an albatross on the shoulders.

For those of you that don’t know, an albatross was a bird of the sea that would have been considered a curse on anyone that killed it. It’s fairly famous in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge where it says “Instead of the cross, the Albatross/ About my neck was hung.” In the poem, the ship was being followed by an albatross, which was a sign of good luck, but the Mariner shot the bird with a crossbow, bringing bad luck on the entire ship. They then hang the albatross over him as a sign that they blame him for the bad luck.

What I call the curse of a writer, is really the weight of that metaphorical albatross, that psychological burden that feels like a curse. I don’t think people have put that on us but we ourselves as writers and creators have. As writers, we often find ourselves tucked behind a computer or a book doing one of two things: writing or researching. We often are stereotyped as extreme introverts or alcoholics (thanks, Ernest…and others), and while some stereotypes do ring true they aren’t always true.

I think one of the things that bother me the most, for some strange reason, is the stereotype that artists and creators are up at two in the morning working. While it may be true for some creators, it is definitely not true for me. I have three kids, wife, and a full-time job, so if I’m up at two in the morning something is severely wrong. I’m usually in bed between ten or eleven in the evening. There have been times where I’m up slightly later working but it doesn’t happen very often.

What curse do you feel like you live with? I ask this question for the sole reason that I realize everyone feels like they have some type of curse put upon them. There was a comedian that said every parent puts a curse on their child when they tell them, “I hope you have children just like you!” I ask you, the readers, what curse do you feel like you have because I’m interested in hearing what struggles you face in creating things.

What is your albatross?


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