Short Essay: Until Then, I Write



It seemed innocent enough. A few words on the page; what harm could it do?

A flash-fiction piece here, a poem there – it didn’t take much time. Before long, I stepped up to doing short stories. It was only one a week, at first. Then I was doing it more. I would lie to my family so I could sneak out and write. They thought I was going to the store for bread, but I was at Starbucks with my fingers on the keyboard, typing furiously, or sitting in the car, scribbling in a Moleskine.

Eventually, they suspected something was not right when I didn’t come home for three hours and when I did, I had no bread but was all amped up on triple-tall cappuccino. The pens and pencils in my pocket were a giveaway, too. I denied being a writer, of course.

“What sort of loser profession is that?” I scoffed. “Yes, I write a little when there is nothing else to do, but I can stop anytime.”

The truth was – it was under my skin. I was driven to scriven. I had the bite to write. I would uncontrollably write poetry. Soon, the flash-fic, poems and short stories were not enough. I started outlining novels.

The outlines grew into acts, and the acts multiplied, with peaks and valleys and so help me – they climaxed. It was out of my control now, and I began doing full-blown novels. I tried to stop. I tried to watch TV with my family, but all I could think about was creating my own stories, not watch someone else’s.

So, that is what I did. Every moment I called my own, I wrote. Or I looked at funny pictures of cats on the internet. But mostly, I wrote. I wrote some of the time, ok? Don’t be a nag about it. More days than not, I wrote.

My family resigned to the truth – I was a writer. Not like I was an addict, but more like I was handicapped. Like something was wrong with me. Something really, really wrong. Still, they loved me and put up with it, though it was taxing.

I found myself barging into the bedroom at 1 AM, shouting to my wife, “Wake up! The second act is complete and I need you to read it all the way through. Help me see what I have missed!”

This never produced the enthusiastic response I expected. Slowly, I learned when to bring up my writing and when not to, and my family adapted as well. For reference, most of the time is not a good time to bring up my writing.

I know, as does my family – there is no cure. I may not be good at it. Maybe I’ll never be more than a hack, independent author, receiving only the most benign acknowledgements or accolades. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I do write and I get the ideas out of head and onto the page.

They say the left brain controls the logical thought processes and the right brain controls the creative processes. When you are a writer, neither side is in control of any processes. It just comes together in a big gumbo of thoughts and emotions.

One day, they may have pill to help people like me. Until then, I write.

© 2015, Mitch Lavender

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