GB Readalong: Depression is a Bastard
Sorry this post is kind of late! Life was super crazy this week and I hardly had time to breathe, so this is an exhausted, emotional me trying to write a blog post that I think is really important.
I read this wonderful blog post on Relentless Reading about how Scott Lynch grappled with his depression and managed to finish his book. That book was The Republic of Thieves, and there is a lot about it that I understand a lot better now that I have more context for it.
When I first read The Republic of Thieves, I was infuriated by how fickle Sabetha was. She'd lead Locke on, then say no, "I choose not to be charmed" and then waltz away, leaving Locke dejected like a kicked puppy.
Now that I'm an older and wiser reader, and especially now that I have the context for Locke and Sabetha's relationship, I really like how Lynch chose to portray it. We're so used to fairy tale romances: you love someone, they may not like you at first but then they come around, everyone lives happily ever after. But sometimes real life doesn't work like that. Sometimes you really have to work at a relationship, and your feelings can be really freaking complicated.
When Locke tells Sabetha that he'll respect her decision either way, even though he wants more than anything for her to love him, you know he's growing up. This isn't the child who fixated on her red hair or who fantasized about her for years in her absence. This is a young man who realizes that Sabetha is a person and that their love isn't inevitable (just because you're the main character of a series doesn't mean you get a fairy tale romance. Interesting lesson, that :) ).
I also really appreciate how transparent Lynch has been about dealing with his depression and how that affects his books. Publicly announcing your depression is really hard, because there is so much stigma associated with mental illness. Lynch is unflinchingly honest about how depression has affected him and made it hard for him to get his books done by the deadlines. After all, when you have days when it's hard to find the will to live, how can you expect to find the will to write a book? This is why it took six years between Red Seas and Republic of Thieves, and it's also why Thorn of Emberlain is being released later than expected.
I had a period of depression during my freshman year of college. I felt intensely alone even when I was surrounded by my friends, I'd wake up crying and not know why I was sad, I couldn't concentrate in class or enjoy any of the things that usually cheered me up. It was really hard for me to deal with, because loneliness is something I have always been anxious about and in my first year away from home it really hit hard. Thankfully I found ways of dealing with it, largely thanks to a friend who also had experienced depression. I think the key for me was knowing that I wasn't alone.
What I experienced is probably not even a fraction of what Lynch is dealing with, and my respect for him grows tremendously when I think of how useless I was when I was dealing with depression. There was no way I would be creating anything as remotely entertaining or complex as The Gentleman Bastards series.
So yes, I'm disappointed that I'll have to wait even longer to see Locke and Jean again, but I would much rather wait for Scott Lynch to create the best story he can than force him to crank out a book by a deadline. I wish him the best of luck in conquering his demons and I'm looking forward to seeing Jean and Locke again.
After all, good things are worth waiting for, aren't they?