For some time, Wallace had come to suspect that the [antidepressant] drug [Nardil] was also interfering with his creative evolution. He worried that it muted his emotions, blocking the leap he was trying to make as a writer. He thought that removing the scrim of Nardil might help him see a way out of his creative impasse. Of course, as he recognized even then, maybe the drug wasn’t the problem; maybe he simply was distant, or maybe boredom was too hard a subject. He wondered if the novel was the right medium for what he was trying to say, and worried that he had lost the passion necessary to complete it.Not a good trade. How much better would it have been to just wait another twelve years for a new novel? Or to get no new novel at all?
That summer, Wallace went off the antidepressant. He hoped to be as drug free as [Infinite Jest protagonist] Don Gately, and as calm. Wallace would finish the Long Thing with a clean brain. He entered this new period of life with what Franzen calls “a sense of optimism and a sense of terrible fear.” He hoped to be a different person and a different writer. “That’s what created the tension,” Franzen recalls. “And he didn’t make it.”
Me and DFW