Writing Cold Turkey
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.