Addicted to …
Occasionally I will get asked why I write.
I have two small children, a bare minimum of time and what I earn doesn’t even pay off the interest on one credit card.
The answer I generally give, especially to students who ask, is that I write because I love it.
But I’m sure any writer (and by writer I don’t necessarily mean published author, I mean anyone who is periodically compelled to sit and get a story out of their head and onto paper) would agree with me when I say it isn’t that simple.
There are many things I love about writing.
I love it when (as Hannibal would say) a plan (or in my case a plot) comes together.
I love it when the story is really flowing and the words come together easily in a sort of magic.
I love it when I’ve had a great day writing, when I come away from the keyboard with an immense feeling of satisfaction (like you have at the end of a wonderful meal).
I love it when I read back over a previous day’s work and think ‘that’s good stuff’.
I love it when I get a book deal (obviously), when I see my front cover for the first time, when my book hits the shelves, when I get a good review or even an award or short-listing.
But then there is the other side.
I don’t love it when the words don’t flow, when every sentence has had to be forced out, like contractions during labour.
I don’t love it when, at the end of a writing day I look back over what I’ve done and know it is rubbish.
I don’t love that my house is a total mess and I have to choose between housework and writing.
I don’t love it when my back aches and my joints hurt because I’ve been bent over a keyboard for hours.
I don’t love it when I am so jealous over another writer’s immense success that I have to go and give myself a good talking to (be a better person, Bryony).
I don’t love it when I’m kept up at night with ideas and have to get out of bed and go and switch the light on in the study and write stuff down (okay, I kind of do – that one’s mixed, I just wish the ideas would come in the light of day, that’s all).
I don’t love it when I feel like the kids have dragged me away from a story, when it should be the other way around.
Is it that the stuff I love outweighs the stuff I don’t, or is there something else going on?
What happens if I don’t write?
If I don’t write I get antsy. My leg twitches, my fingers itch for a keyboard. I’m looking around for a notebook, a pen, a keyboard, even if I’m out and about. I literally get shaky.
If I don’t write I get grumpier, more impatient and more difficult to live with until I’ve had my next writing fix.
If I don’t write the stories back up in my head until it’s clamouring with voices desperate to be released.
I said fix and I meant it. These are not the symptoms of love; but of addiction. It seems that I write, not out of love, but because I can’t not. I literally can’t not write (as my agent will attest – she’s getting backed up with stuff I’m sending her and I do apologise for that, even though, at the same time, I can’t stop).
So here is my confession. My name is Bryony Pearce and I am addicted to writing.
It could be worse.