Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Writing in the Blood



How does this writing thing become so addictive? I was talking to a friend on the phone recently. Five years ago he’d pretty much never written anything in his life. Then he began to dabble, producing an essay here, an essay there. Suddenly he’s writing every night, staying up late to get in his say, talking about writing to others. I could hear it in his voice. He’s hooked.

When I was a kid I loved telling stories, though I told them mostly to myself. But once I discovered that I could write them down, and discovered that I had the patience to sit in front of a computer for hours, I soon found that I absolutely could not stop. I took off from writing this Memorial Day, after finishing a big project, and it actually took physical and mental effort on my part to “force” myself to stay away from the computer. Today, I planned to run errands and deal with various business aspects of writing instead of starting anything new. Did that happen? No. The temptation to tickle the keys was just too much.

So, what is it? Are we just compulsives? Is writing a mental aberration? At least for me, the monetary reward does not equal the time I put in on this activity. And it’s not like I don’t enjoy doing other things, like reading, watching TV, playing games. But why do I feel guilty if I do those things too much instead of writing? And why does the time come, no matter how much I’m enjoying a book, or enjoying a movie, when I get up from wherever I am and find myself drawn by a literary gravity into the circuit of my computer?

I’d really like to know.

13 comments:

Jack said...

I'd like to know too, but I don't have the answer. I've tried to stop myself from writing and drawing, but it keeps coming back up on me.

Randy Johnson said...

I remember an article from years ago by Isaac Asimov where he said if he went two days without writing, he started to feel antsy. Therefor, he carried a portable typewriter everywhere he went(he was notorious for never flying). Then he discovered that he could write with pen and paper and not get knotted fingers.

Sidney said...

The first writing I can really remember doing:

When I only knew how to make letters, I'd ask my mom to spell words and I re-wrote the captions in a Tarzan coloring book, telling my own story based on the pictures.

I seem to remember one bit of dialog:
"It's pretty far to the village."

I need to reuse that line, eh? It's fabulous.

Susan Miller said...

I like to consider it your fire, Charles, but hey, you're the fiction writer.

the walking man said...

write or be a suicidal drunk ...or both?

Erik Donald France said...

It's one of the best addictions there is. It helps being Catholic, probably.

Charles Gramlich said...

Jack, rather like a recurring illness eh? ;)

Randy, I read Asimov's book on SF many moons ago and I seem to remember him saying something along these lines.

Sidney, I remember writing a story in Jr High for an English class about intelligent beings who grew from seeds on these great trees. That's the earlies I recall writing something down.

Susan, could it be just a bad case of gas instead of fire?

Walking man, I tried the drinking route for quite a few years but the returns on my investment got less and less and I've finally pretty much given it up.

Michelle's Spell said...

Gloria Steinem once wrote that the only time she feels as if she shouldn't be doing something else is when she's writing. That pretty much sums it up for me. I don't know why, but it's the cross I've chosen. Got to love it when it's going well, hate it when it isn't, but there's still nothing else I would do.

Avery DeBow said...

For me it comes in waves. But, when it hits, I can't do anything else but sit for twelve, fourteen hours straight. I even get angry at my body because it wants me to stop and pee.

Bernita said...

If you figure it out, let us know, hmmm?

cs harris said...

I'm compulsive about anything that grabs my attention. If I'm doing genealogy, I have a hard time stopping to go to bed. Sometimes I'll spend days and days studying antique roses. Because stories are so long, they can hold you captive for months at a time. I suspect it's a personality disorder.

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, you must have posted just before I did. The Catholic comment may be right on. I was raised that way.

Michelle, another Catholic reference, the cross you've chosen. It can hurt when it's not going well, that's for sure.

Avery, I've felt that same irritation at my own body's betrayal. Release water, surely you jest.

Bernita, I suspect you may figure it out before I do.

Candice, come to think of it I can certainly be obsessive about other things as well. Never got into geneology, though.

Steve Malley said...

Me, I'm a big believer in the idea that everyone has a mission in life, and that mission, that activity, nourishes the core of us the way nothing us can.

It's all very Oprah meets Ayn Rand...