How has your decision to write affected your health? Has it had negative effects on your personal life?

Pathos: Neal Pollack  | Full Stop. Full Stop has been asking this question of a number of writers: “This year, we’ve crafted a questionnaire asking writers about the effect writing has had on their physical, emotional, and economic health; on the idea of poverty being a precondition for writing well; on what makes writing truthful to one’s self and to readers. Ultimately, we are interested in the consequences of pursuing writing as a vocation.”

Basically, they seem to be encouraging writers to complain about how terribly hard it is to be a writer and how much suffering writers endure. Some of them comply, but most, to their credit, do not.

The problem with the question is that it lacks context: “the decision to write” as opposed to doing what else? You’d answer the question one way if instead of writing you imagined being unemployed, another way if instead of writing you imagined being a firefighter. Ditto with “negative effects”: How do I even know whether writing has had negative effects on my personal life? Maybe I would have been a jerk no matter what I did, and my being a writer at least keeps me in a room by myself so I can’t bother other people as much.