It occurred to me that I might just be addicted to writing, and probably have been since my early teens. Writing has always been something that I feel like I have to do, however bad I was at for years.
Like most writers, I sucked when I started. If I re-read now some of the articles and stories I wrote over the years, I would cringe like a priest at a Slayer concert. The only reason I have continued to write is because writing feeds some sort of strange need or appetite in me. Thankfully, I have improved at writing over the years, more so the last few years, when I decided to take the whole game seriously. And when I did, things just seemed to click. That’s commitment for you. Soon as you do it, mountains move.
But back to addiction. As a smoker, I’m on intimate terms with addiction. I know its wily and often sinister ways. I know how it makes stuff like smoking seem normal and that bad really. I like smoking. If I quit, I would probably end up hating it, but I have to quit first and that’s not going to happen any time soon. That’s another matter though.
It seems to me that all writers are addicts in one way or another. Why else would you do it? It takes years of struggle just to get competent enough to string a half decent sentence together, and even then, there is no guarantee that you will write something that is worth a shit to anyone else.
There is also little money in writing. Forget about the self publishing success stories where some writers pull in six figures a year. That just isn’t going to happen for most writers. I am lucky enough that I have found a way to make a living from writing, but barely so. I make enough to just about get by and no more. I don’t have an extravagant lifestyle and I never seem to have enough money to do the things I want to do, like take my wife and kids on vacation somewhere warm that isn’t Ireland. (But I am content in pursuing my purpose, as I see it. More on that here.)
I am confident that things will continue to improve for me however, as they have been the last few years. I’m bedded in for the long game. I don’t have a problem with that at all. Sure, I’ll do my best to accelerate my progress every day, but I am under no illusions. This shit takes time.
Which brings me back to addiction (again). One would have to be addicted in order to keep playing this long game of writing. One would have to enjoy writing purely for the pleasure of the act itself, with no thoughts of money or trying to please anyone else but yourself. To do that, one would need addiction to force you to continue writing, even if–especially if–you don’t fucking feel like writing a goddamn word, which is sometimes the case.
My wife just came into the kitchen, took one look at me sitting here with my drowsy, tear filled eyes, constantly twitching nose, surrounded by wet tissues, and she shook her head at me like I was insane and left the room again. She knows she can’t argue with the madness of sitting dosed with the flu and writing. She has learned this over time. She accepts she doesn’t understand it, but she supports me completely in it.
Non-addicts don’t understand. To them, the act of addiction just seems like total madness, a thing they struggle to comprehend and never do. Only the addict understands the logic of what they are doing. The addict also doesn’t expect non-addicts to understand. The addict is generally uncaring of what others think and they will pursue their addiction selfishly by whatever means necessary, even if that means sacrificing other things in the process.
No twelve step program for this junky. I intend to keep tapping the writing vein for-fucking-ever. Or until the smoking kills me, whatever comes first.
I am glad to be an addict. I am glad I am addicted to writing and not heroine or gambling or alcohol. We all have our addictions. Mine just happen to mean that I don’t have to work on building sites anymore and that I get to make up stories for a living now, which is something else I am addicted to, stories. All kinds of stories in whatever form. That’s a handy addiction for a writer to have, don’t you think?
Anyway, that’s my addiction sated for another while. I’m off now to wallow in the misery of my man flu. Stay addicted!