Like Writalin

This post was written by Friday guest blogger Emma Garman.

Neri Livneh, the Hebrew translator of Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression, says that when she first heard of Prozac fifteen years ago, after a friend was prescribed it, she thought it was a pharmaceutical tailor-made for novelists:

[S]he called me all excited and happy as a lark, and told me that her new psychiatrist, the one who had replaced his predecessor in the job, whom she had cleverly dubbed “Ms. Ery,” had given her a new medication to try, which “as you can hear, my dear, is doing wonders for me,” she said. Not only had her mood improved dramatically, but her writer’s block had disappeared, and within a few days she suddenly understood that she could play around with words and emotions as with modeling clay, and now she was about to finish the first draft of the book that she knew was about to change the face of Hebrew literature. And in general, she had never felt better.

I asked her for the name of the medication, and she told me “Prozac,” and added: “You really should try it, Nerinkeh.” But because I concluded from the name of the medication that it was a prescription drug for people who write prose, I replied that there was no point, since I didn’t write prose. And in general, I told her, maybe I should begin with “Poezac” and write poems, because with three young children in the house, I could barely sit at my desk long enough to write limericks.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.