I just finished editing a book for a man who knows a lot about the direct and indirect effects of addiction. Looking at myself and those I know, we tend to get addicted to things that aren’t always what we want in the long term. I mean, sure, we have moments where we want it, but we look back on a sugar binge or an alcohol induced night of mischief and say, “Really? That’s how I want to spend my nights?” I don’t know the answer, but through this post, I hope to find out how to get addicted to the right things. How to get addicted to writing.
So why do we write? For some it’s a release, and for others it’s a way to make money. Though the spectrum stretches in too many directions to count, I’d say most of us fall into one camp, but find ourselves nodding in approval at the others. I myself write to explore. I want to push an idea. I want to see it grow, break down, struggle, and argue with itself. I also want these thought experiments to generate some sort of income. Whatever your reason for writing, I guess you have to ask if you’re “addicted” to it.
Maybe it’s just one part of the process that you’re addicted to. Maybe it’s putting things on paper, but you’re not crazy about editing. Maybe it’s the editing, but putting things on paper seems a trifle of a step. Maybe you like to start a piece, but hate endings. Maybe you hate middles. Maybe you just end your pieces without resolution. For most of us, we favor one part more than the other.
Though we are attracted to one facet, if a writer simply writes for themselves, then they’re golden. They can write all the beginnings in the world and find peace in that. For those that wish to write for others, we need to get addicted to the work as a whole. Those months spent editing need to be as valuable to us as the time spent writing. Pushing a piece to get published needs to be as worthy of our time as any other aspect. Orchestrating all this soon becomes habitual, and when we start getting all the pieces to fall into place, I find things become addicting.
That might be where I am going with this entry. Perhaps addiction comes from knowing that you do something well. When you write a damn good beginning, you just want to write beginnings. When you edit a piece to such sheen that marble stares in wonder, you just want to polish. We are painters, we are blacksmiths, and we want to get our hands dirty. Some work better with pen and paper because ink-stained hands conceptualize hard work. I want to exhaust my mind to the point that I just need a break from thought so I can take in the world for what it is. Not that I’m Einstein, but he seemed to have a similar view of things. Appreciating nature without science, he believed, is just as important as understanding the world, if not more so.
Back to addiction. I think I need to be addicted to life. I need to view each breath as an opportunity. The seconds tick, and I want something to show for my existence. Existentialism is the right of humankind by which the frivolous are ready to take its place. Are we now at its peak? Surely nihilism would ensure this because we’d only fade from this point. I choose to believe we can go higher and further than this moment. What fun is it to scale a mountain if you’re only looking forward to going back down? I hope the clouds will always hide the peak for me, and I go through them knowing that we’ve been there before. The clouds provide clarity.
Fellow writers, is writing just a means to express our addictions? Do we simply write because we feel it necessary to express ourselves in a manner that demands the attention of others? Is this true of all art? If it is, it can only be in the moment it is decided and not before or after.
I’m addicted to thought. I’m addicted to ideas. I find value in these things and I have chosen the podium of writing from which I will speak. Wittgenstein (love him or hate him) found himself addicted to his ideas much more than expressing them. His works are few, as though he found time writing them unworthy of time thinking them. It’s time I start to insist that I’m right in my ideas, not because I am, but because I must be. Ideas change, warp, grow, and shrink, but first they must be given breath.
Take what you will from this, but I will write with gusto to prove my being. I need to do this to validate not my ability, but my living. I have to say, Socrates was right when he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I think it’s time I start examining my own with more poignancy. Only through action can I inspire others to such ends. Only through such ends can I inspire myself.