Writing as Addiction

Like many young people, when I was about 18 I took up smoking. I smoked about a pack a day for nearly five years. Conscious of the physical toll my habit was taking, I quit when I joined the Army. I fell off the wagon a couple of times, and ultimately it took a full year of not smoking at all before I stopped thinking, "Man, I could really use a cigarette." A full year. Addictions are rough, and even that mild smoking addiction and my struggle to break free from it should have told me something. 

Well, a few months back I threw in the writing towel. No more writing. No more promoting books. No more aggravation, disappointment, grief, and all the other crap that comes with the creative process. I told myself that I was done, that eight books is enough, and that whatever unfinished works were in the pipeline, including two emerging novels, would have to finish themselves because I was done. And I actually got out of the habits I'd developed of writing, editing, researching, and promoting. I even shut down my twitter account, stepped away from the works in progress, and tried to convince myself that an important part of my life for more than a quarter of a century was at a welcome end. And after a few weeks of mild withdrawal, I began to feel at ease with my decision. A sort of serenity ensued . . . at least temporarily. Then, in February I started to ease back into some of those old habits. A conversation here, an editing session there, and next thing I know, I'd fallen off the wagon, and that part of me that I like to think of as my creative side was demanding my attention in the same manner that it had for much of my life. At least my advancing years seem to have leveled out the mercurial temperament typical of my earlier bouts with this unending addiction, and for that I am grateful. As for the rest of it, the torture continues.