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Writing Cold Turkey

I have this affliction. Some might call it an addiction.
(Yes, that’s right – I’m a rapper!… ;))

I have a want, an urge, a need to create and communicate with the written word.
The worst time is in the morning, about an hour or so after I have woken. I start to wonder when and how I can get my next fix. I shoot up words in the shower and hope no one finds me and stops me while I’m getting high in the next couple of hours. If they do I am angry, upset, distressed.
I write to the detriment of all else. Sometimes I go without food or I perch half dressed in front of my laptop, with wet hair, going blue while I soar on an inspired push of words that send me skywards, weaving and ducking spinning and whirling, getting carried away, forgetting everything else.
If I don’t get my morning fix I go downhill fast. I get agitated. I see that my window of opportunity for a fix has passed and I mourn the absence of my beloved drug. I look for opportunities throughout the day, becoming more and more unpleasant to be around.
Time off from writing isn’t time off for me. It’s time spent pushing my imagination away like a favourite pet in case I get hairs on a posh frock I didn’t even want to wear. It’s time denying myself intense satisfaction like saying no to the last chocolate in case someone else wants it even though I’m craving it. It’s like having to leave my baby with a neighbour while I have an in-growing toenail removed.
When I write I am ignoring my family, the housework, the office-work I should be doing for our business, the telephone, the outside world, even my basic physical needs. Things suffer in all sorts of areas that affect all sorts of people and that guilt is difficult to balance against a powerful craving.
A string of words begin an idea or a story for me. They appear with images, a voice, and most importantly a style. When this apparition is with me I have to obey it immediately or it becomes diluted, weaker, lacks punch, is soulless almost. It becomes less and less powerful, like a rocket running out of fuel. It might be okay to look at but it loses its oomph. The style walks away with its tail in the air like a cat unimpressed with the cheap supermarket petfood. I can still write down my idea, turn it into a story later when I have arranged it around everything else in my life. But it’s never the same; that alternative comes at a given time in an agreed dose. It’s a prescribed substitute: weaker and less effective.
So often I don’t write at all. I am not satisfied with that weak alternative. The apparition still visits me regularly each morning but so do responsibilities and I can only write when I am not being disturbed. Like a drug my writing is selfish, self-indulgent and destructive, it costs us money and it causes problems. But I am more bearable when I have been writing and also more sane. That’s got to be important hasn’t it?
I have put writing aside for almost a month now to deal with Christmas. But after Boxing Day the cold turkey ends.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Gosh, Rachel, I can totally relate to this. I expect a lot of us writing mums can. But it helps to know that you’re not alone, I have to say.



  2. Just wait until that torrent of words flows on the 26th. I’ll drop you a mail on the 1st to see if you’ve emptied the well. 🙂 As someone who went almost 5 months without writing anything, you have my utmost sympathy.


  3. Tracy #

    I can totally relate to this, there is never enough time in the day and writing is always the thing that gets pushed aside.
    By the way, I love how you write, you describe things perfectly and sum up an emotion really well, I like the idea of your imagination being like a favourite pet.
    Happy Christmas xxx


  4. I wrote all day to justify having the next 2 days off because husband does and I want to remember that I am a human and a wife as well as a writer, obsessed with her story. We all have to find what our balance is, how much will let our minds be still, how little will let us live in the world while we write?
    Here’s to your next fix!


  5. Hi Rachel, this is a brilliant post, I identify absolutely and your way of describing how you feel is inventive and wonderful (so you HAVE been writing). I wish you (and me) more opportunities after this madness ends and great things in 2011!



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