One Foot in the Other World

Remember a few posts back, when I wrote about writers and depression? Well, when I saw a post from Joe Konrath entitled “Depression and Writers”, I thought it was going to be along the same lines, talking about the phenomenon in general. But instead, he was talking about a very specific case. He shared with us a letter from a writer named Kiana Davenport, whose depression over her failing writing career was taking her as far as depression can take you:

“With dwindling publishers, rock-bottom advances, I didn’t see any reason to write anymore, which is what I LIVE for.

Unemployment is staggering here, I couldn’t find a job. I sold my good clothes and jewelry, made out a will leaving the land to my daughter. I felt I’d rather die than scrape and starve. (I’m a good swimmer, I’m half Hawaiian, I know how to swim to exhaustion, then unconsciousness.) If I couldn’t make a living at what I love to do – publishers and bookstores folding left and right – I felt I’d rather pack it in. I was dead serious, I’ve never been afraid to die. Its a Hawaiian thing – we always have one foot in the other world.

At first friends thought I was kidding, but then they saw me making plans, they watched me begin to withdraw. Then one day a friend came to my house and said two words. ‘JOE KONRATH.’ That’s what she said. ‘This man is going to save your life.'”

I was in tears by the time I was done reading this.  And it has a happy ending.  Kiana read through Konrath’s entire blog, read all his advice and research and hard numbers about self-publishing, and decided to try it.  Long story short — she’s happy writing again.

Joe waves away any notion that he, personally, saved this woman’s life — but it’s clear to me, his modesty aside, that his words and his ideas did exactly that.

I’ve struggled with thoughts of suicide my whole adult life. Sometimes they can come out of nowhere on a bright clear sunny day. I know the voices that tell you that you don’t have a single good thing left in the world. They’ve never been pulled so far deep that I actually started making serious plans, and I can’t even imagine what level of hell that would be to live through. But she did live through it. Another one stepped back from the edge. That’s one more, one more little miracle.

Her self-published collection is called House of Skin, and Konrath says: “Let’s see how low we can get her Amazon ranking. Right now it’s #134,555. I’d really like to see it crack the Top 1000.” Not a bad idea. The collection is just $1.99, and I think that’s a pretty small price to pay to let someone know they’re not alone.