Addicted to Writing

Desk Work

I’m addicted to writing.

Since retiring in 2009 my morning routine includes making a French press of coffee shortly after waking, wandering downstairs with sleep sand in my eyes, reading at a computer for the first cup, then writing.

When I’m writing everything fades into background as I consider words on a screen. It is bliss.

This blog hit a record number of views in January with four more days to go. I’ve posted almost every day since apple season ended. If I consistently apply my skills as a proof reader and editor I can produce a post that engages readers without calling attention to the prose. I live for return readers and discussions in society about what I’ve written. That too is addictive.

I’ve become some kind of writer animal. The work is not really process, more like a habit that roots out meaning in a common life. Some days are better than others, but an intellectual or human side appears only irregularly.

The addiction worries me.

Cognizant of increasing age I’m reluctant to spend too much time writing. When I begin, minutes and hours go by in a mysterious vortex that sucks away time leaving a few hundred words. That’s not all bad, just worrisome.

With the economic security of income from diverse sources, I’m free to do what I want. From time to time I think about building a wooden bench to place under one of the trees I planted. In good weather I’d read poetry and consume Galoises and Pernod Ricard while immersed in sunlight and pondering the muse. I’ve been drunk in France after too many anise aperitifs and don’t smoke. As good as it sounds, I doubt that’s my future.

Process isn’t everything but it helps. If I were to improve my writing — take out some of the animal-like habits — that’s where I’d focus. Seeking raw material in memory and artifact, discovery of meaning in society, followed by writing, re-writing and more re-writing. Something positive seems likely to result.

As I finish my second French press of coffee I’m wide awake.

I’m drawn to this comforting place, surrounded by books, with a small space heater keeping away the subzero temperatures outside. I’ll ponder my craft a while longer before turning everything off until tomorrow. Such pondering making us human as much as writing ever might.

5 replies on “Addicted to Writing”

You are a good writer. What you share is interesting, useful, and entertaining. It is good for you, and for us. My advice, step away at appropriate times to ensure you get full doses of RPT (Real People Time). They will assure you of more material to write about. 🙂
Stay warm, sir.

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I resonate with what you write about here (despite being a tea, not coffee, drinker). Even 800 word posts take time if they’re thoughtful, particularly for me who is not a naturally facile writer. And, as perhaps you do, I worry about proportionate audience to the time and effort involved.

In my life there have been only short intervals in which I was paid to write, but even there I don’t know how one can put out the effort necessary to produce anything worthwhile without a considerable element of compulsion/habit. Writing never has the immediate external feed back to wake one up, to keep one going. To finish you have to trust what you’re finding as you write and exert the effort to complete it–or simply not ask questions about that–and since I can’t stop asking questions, I have to go with that trust.

That lost track of time feeling, that immersion too. It feels like addictions. It feels like compulsion. But if one is making something out the matter of time rather than burning time so that you don’t have to look at it, is it not as noble and foolish as any other work?

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Thanks for reading my post Frank.
Somewhere in the background is my reading of Ecclesiastes 3:19: “a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.”
It took a number of drafts to come up with and settle on, “I’ve become some kind of writer animal.” “Root out” is a reference to hogs seeking truffles, a.k.a. “truffle hogs,” following up on which “kind of animal.” I’ve been thinking about working in the meat packing plant of late.
When visiting a couple the husband grabbed his pack of cigarettes and a book of poetry and descended into the basement to “read.” Why would a writer choose to create versus indulging in addictions for their own sake? Seems to me a human condition is a balance between doing and not doing that. Whether a writer is human or animal I don’t know, but hopefully some of both.


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