Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Could you, too, be an Addict?

-by Juliet

I thought I could quit any time.

It started slowly. Just a sentence here, a paragraph there. Then I wanted more. A whole chapter. The first fifty pages. I started counting words…250, 500, 1000. I needed more.

I let my other work languish. In order to have more writing time I started to make excuses, to decline invitations. Even lovers took a back seat to ultimate word count.

That’s when I knew: I had become a writing junkie.

Could you, too, be an addict? Ask yourself:

1) Have you forgotten to bathe for days at a time? (You might want to check in with loved ones on this one, as self-reporting is not always accurate)

2) Have you ever, even once, been in the middle of a dramatic situation – i.e., an emotional break-up, at an accident or crime scene, by the hospital bedside of a loved one—and thought “this would make an awesome scene if only I could write it well enough?"

2A) Similar to the above, do you truly believe that no subject is sacrosanct if it makes the writing work? “No, that overachieving, work-obsessed Ivy League professor with the latino name isn’t YOU,” I tell my ex-husband, Javier. “You taught at Berkeley, not Harvard. This self-centered, blowhard character is totally different from you.”

3) Do your loved ones notice a feverish, “why the hell are you bothering me?” look in your eyes when they dare to speak to you or do anything but leave tea and toast at your door? (FYI, this is a phenomenon called “Writers’ Daze”)

3A) As a corollary to the above, do you lash out at people who dare to call or write because they haven’t heard from you in six weeks…and in response do you imply that their reaching out and bothering you shows they don’t respect your art?

4) Do you talk a lot about “prioritizing”, by which you mean everything (including sleep) takes a back seat to your writing time?

5) Have you ever looked at your cleaning rag or dishcloth and thought, “this is a perfect metaphor!”, then returned to your computer, completely forgetting about the company arriving at six for dinner?

6) Do you sometimes sneak off from events to secretly jot down thoughts or phrases?

7) When you’re not writing, do you still think about writing?

8) Are you often miserable when you write, yet claim that only writing can make you happy?

9) Have you ever likened not writing to having your head explode?

10) Do you assume that everyone secretly wishes to be a writer? And that therefore, everyone is secretly jealous of you? (Which they are, I mean, let's face it)


11) Do you believe that Nanowrimo is, like, the most exciting thing to happen all year? (For the uninitiated, this is a voluntary event that forces you to write 50,000 words in one month with no hope of remuneration.) “What, you mean there’s another holiday in November? Something involving a turkey, and family, and tradition? Hey, I could write a story about that…”


14 comments:

A. J. Larrieu said...

I'm not doing NaNo because I've got a revision to finish, but I'm guilty of all of the rest. It's nice to know I'm not alone, especially on 2 and 3!

Sophie Littlefield said...

#'s 5, 8, and 10 for me. Ah, I love it!

Lisa Hughey said...

J-LOVE THIS!!! I have noticed lately that I am supremely annoyed when I have to actually shower and put on make up and real clothes to attend a meeting or interact with other people. :)

Rachael Herron said...

Twelve yesses from me. You hit this word-nail on the head.

Big Sis said...

I am a bit confused............How is this any different than when you were painitng? or studying? or when you were a social worker? Face it Jules.this is just YOU. And I say this with all of the love in the world;)

Juliet Blackwell said...

Ah yes, we aren't alone! In fact, I should have included something about starting to feel comfortable only around other authors, since addicts like to hang with addicts!
And Big Sis...thanks for bringing me back to reality. Always great to have someone around who can offer the historical view ;-)At least my addictions tend to be cheaper than actual drugs!

L.G.C. Smith said...

I love this. The ethnography of writing from the inside. You know, #2 is actually a great tool for keeping perspective. Other people may think we're kind of cold, but life is material. Use it or lose it.

David Fitzgerald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dana Fredsti said...

Dang! David didn't say anything, I did, but his Google address was up...

Anyway, I will cop to #2, #2A, and 7 and 8. Possibly a few more, except not hte one about not bathing.

Mysti said...

The best part is, writing addiction is totally compatible with all other existing addictions in the host body, except compulsive t.v. watching. Oh, and you probably won't have time to power shop. All the other ones though...

Jeanne B. said...

What is this "showering"?

Just kidding. I can identify with this from the perspective of writer, fiber artist, musician and horsewoman. My greatest joy is to become lost in any of those activities to the point where I forget that I'm physically on this planet.

Adrienne Miller said...

A big "hell Yes" to 2, 5, 7 and 10. Except with 5, I actually say these things out loud and just assume any one within earshot understands.

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

I loved #2, #5, #6, #7. Actually I liked them all and experience most of them. I do shower though. :-)

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