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Confessions of a Writing Junkie

I never asked to be a writer. It's true, I say. Nobody with any lingering sense of sanity actually wants to be a writer. That's like saying (with a straight face, no less), "Hey, I'd like to pull my pancreas out with a rust-laden letter opener, twirl it around on the tip for a while, throw it over the fence and giggle while a neighbor-dog uses it as a chew toy."

But write I must, since modern medicine has not yet produced a cure for this particular addiction. At first, I was just a social writer. I could quit at any time. But as the years passed, my writing became more demanding, pulling me into places I never dreamed possible.

I've quit, of course. We've all quit. If I had a written page for every day a writer spends trying to quit, I'd leave Herman Mellville in my literary dust. But it always comes back, haunting, taunting, and just as nasty a habit as one could imagine. As ashamed as I am to say this, I'm a writer.

Now, before you go off and get technical, I didn't say anything about being a paid writer. That's a whole different ball game. Many professional writers--that is, the few "almost ready to give up my day job" professional writers that I have met--would agree that the job of writing has become more about business than art. Say the word "remaindered" to any full-time writer, and you'll understand. It's a legalized version of an otherwise dark and frightening addiction. (Like the difference between Julia Child using sherry to cook, and Bob the Wino slugging down another bottle of Thunderbird.)

The kind of writing I'm talking about is different. It's the kind of writing you do at one in the morning when your alarm is destined to buzz at 7 am, but you have to get this scene on paper or die! It's the kind of writing that has you in indentured servitude ad infinitum

to the makers of spiral-bound notebooks and Pilot pens. It's the kind of writing that tells on you, years later, when the afore-mentioned spiral-bound notebooks show up in embarrassing and unexpected places.

We're not talking art, here, folks. We're talking cheap therapy. Journaling, letters, newsgroups, fan fiction, web pages--these are the sewer level haunts of the writing junkies.

Don't believe me? Think I'm overreacting? You've never witnessed the strung-out ramblings of a group of writing-addicts, slugging down coffee and discussing symbolism in a booth at Denny's at three in the morning. The confessions of a weekly writers' group would curl the hair of the most hardened 12-Step sponsor.

And yet each year, more and more people are drawn into the sordid world of writing. Newsgroups thrive; personal web pages are at an all-time high.

The goverment continues to insist that there is no writing epidemic in the United States. It states statistic after statistic assuring us that the war is going our way.

But the truth is out there, folks. Look around. Your boss, your best friend, even your spouse might be a closet writer. The situation is serious, and it must be addressed.

Remember, if you or someone you love is a writer, get help. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.