Strap in, dear readers, for another Issue 042 author interview. Today we chat with Jennifer Lee Rossman with her relatable story, “Depth and Meaning.”
LSQ: This story hit me hard because it’s just so darn relatable. How did you feel while writing it? What called you to write it?
Jennifer: I have struggled with depression since my late teens. Almost half my life now. When I’m depressed, I can create. I can put words on paper and people tell me my work is good, but good isn’t good enough for me. I don’t feel the magic of writing, I’m just going through the motions while I’m going through the emotions. And if I don’t feel the magic, usually those are the stories that don’t get accepted for publication.
But if you don’t suffer, people say, your art won’t be good. And if you take antidepressants, you’re giving up and you’re letting yourself be changed by the medication. You’re not yourself anymore. Well, you’re not yourself anymore if you’re depressed, either, and what good is suffering for your art if the suffering kills you? It’s hard enough to get good mental health care, and people like that don’t help by adding to the stigma. I am personally not a fan of antidepressants. They don’t get along well with my body and my mind. But they save lives and they need to be an option.
LSQ: Dex asking Emi, “What do you have to be depressed about?” gave me a physical jolt. What advice would you give to someone in Emi’s shoes, when someone you love and trust belittles your struggles?
Jennifer: Most people in your life do not mean you harm. Most have your best intentions at heart. But that doesn’t mean they can’t hurt you by mistake. It probably doesn’t even occur to them, because they are not going through the same things you are.
It is OK to love and trust someone conditionally. It is OK not to agree with them, and to only trust them with certain parts of your life. I have people I would trust with my life, and who I tell everything, and then there are people I trust with my life, who I know just aren’t capable of understanding certain things about me. I love them and I would do anything for them, but they are not the people I go to all the time when I am in a crisis.
LSQ: What was the most challenging aspect of this story to write and why? What is your favorite part of it?
Jennifer: It’s always hard when you write about something personal because the feelings aren’t just your character’s. They’re yours.
The ending is my favorite part, mostly because it mirrors the beginning visually in a way I did not consciously plan. I love when my stories surprise me, and the ending gives me goosebumps.
LSQ: Are there any other projects you’re currently working on? If so, could you tell us a bit about them?
Jennifer: I’m currently procrastinating on the edits of two different stories about dinosaurs. I don’t know when I will have permission to properly announce them, but basically they are “Joan Of Arc… but with dinosaurs” and “Armageddon… but with dinosaurs.”