The interesting thing about being a writer is how close it is to drug addiction. Did I just say that? Forget it. I didn't mean it. Look what I've started. I see that look in your eye. You're thinking I need a stint in writers' rehab. It was a slip of the id. I've read too many Anne Tyler novels and it's addled my brain.
Millions of books have been written by perfectly normal people. Were they all addicts? Of course not. I don't know what came over me when you asked me why I write and I gave you that silly, unfounded analogy to drug addiction. Of course, it isn't an addiction.
Do I look like a falling down, spaced-out junkie? My hands don't shake when blank paper and a pen or pencil get too close. Being in a room with a computer doesn't make my heart race. I don't get the sweats when my Amazon ranking goes below a hundred thousand. And believe me, I don't care how many books I sell or if anyone ever reads anything I've written. It's the act of writing that intrigues me. Period. End of sentence.
So you won't let me take back what I said about writing being close to a drug addiction? Well, I don't need your permission. I take it back. Writing is a noble calling, one that I humbly and modestly and self-deprecatingly engage in occasionally, and that's all it is. No addiction about it.
What did you just ask me? Are you talking about whether I have to, need to, must write every day and if I don't I have to be hospitalized? Of course not. And the rumor that I tried to spike Don DeLillo's drink when he and I were clients of the same literary agent is patently, absurdly false. And it wasn't cyanide. Where would I get cyanide? And as far as comparing myself to other writers, I hardly ever read a book that I haven't written. And I don't pay attention to who got the latest literary award. Oh, I might glance at the list if I have nothing better to do. I certainly don't look at Amazon rankings for anyone's books but my own. As for feeling a little sick in the morning when I have to wait too long for my computer to boot up, the doctor says I should eat breakfast, that writing all day on an empty stomach aggravates my ulcer. Know what I think? I think there's something about the smell of computer paper in the morning that makes my ulcer act up. I wonder if there's a nonallergenic computer paper available.
You really believed what I said about excessive writing being similar to drug addiction? You're still stuck on that? Well, ignore what I said at the beginning of this post. It's not true. Not even fuckingly, remotely, crazily true. I just needed something to say when you asked me about what it was like to be a writer, and now you think you know something about me just because I was trying to be clever. Haven't you ever tried to be clever and it backfired? How about a joke? Do you know when someone is trying to make a joke? You don't? And shut up about your Aunt Marilyn and her addiction to her typewriter. I'm nothing like your Aunt Marilyn.
So I write a few books here and there. Maybe I don't eat or sleep or socialize, but it's a small price to pay for the elusive words that I manage to capture and put on paper every day, and if you persist in calling me a victim of writingism, as if it were a disease, go ahead, but that isn't me. And, smarty pants, where did you find the made-up, idiotic word writingism, anyway? I looked in the dictionary. There's no such word.
You're saying my writing is a compulsion and compulsion is part of addiction? I don't buy it. Isn't compulsion when you get carried away by an impulse and act on it even when you know that doing so will be harmful to you? I don't see a trace of compulsion in me or in my writing. Okay, okay, so I like to write more than I like to do anything else. Is it a crime that I feel better when I'm writing than when I don't?
You just asked if I read reviews. No, I don't. Not all of them, anyway. Positive ones, of course. Negative ones make my ulcer squeal.
And now that you have a slim, itty, bitty snippet of personal information about me, you think you know everything. Well, you don't. You don't know that I can certainly live a contented life without writing another thing as long as I live. You don't know that I could be perfectly happy without putting one, single solitary word on paper. You don't know that I could quit writing entirely if I wanted to, if I felt like it, if I really, truly tried. And quit staring at me with that pitying look on your face. I have a perfectly contented, happy life. And I don't care if you believe me or not.
Did you just say you think I need an intervention? Ho, ho, ho, that's a laugh. You're the one who needs an intervention to suck all the crazy ideas you have about writers and the writing life sucked out of your brain.
You want to give me your Aunt Marilyn's psychiatrist's phone number? Are you serious? Haven't you been listening to a word I've said? I've written a whole post on what a writer is and you still don't understand one thing about it. Where do you think all those burning shards of wisdom we writers put between covers come from? How would you know anything about the stomachache I get when I stare at a blank page or the feeling of euphoria that comes over me when I print out a chapter of my new book. How would you know about the all-night writing binge, or about waking up at four in the morning with an idea so gorgeously inventive and clever you nearly break a leg running up the stairs to your writing cubby to memorialize it, or the feverish waking dreams of words and sentences and paragraphs that turn you momentarily deaf and blind to the world around you?
You're sorry? You beg my forgiveness? Well, that's better. Want some advice? Until you become a writer and can experience what I experience, and know what I know, keep your cockamamy ideas and your interventions and your Aunt Marilyns to yourself. I'm a writer. I write. And if I suffer from writingism, I can handle it on my own.