Yes, I’m confessing. I admit it. I see it now for what it is. A habit. No, it’s stronger than that – an addiction.
I found myself at it again, you see, just this morning. I was casually flipping through Webster’s Dictionary when suddenly my eyes bugged, because I saw myself. There I was – me and my life-blood all wrapped up in that one small word: ad.dict: to apply habitually, as one’s mind to speculation; to give (oneself) up to or over, as a constant practice.
It’s true – I used to enjoy eating – but no ambrosia is a match for the written word. I used to shop for clothes, electronics, and chocolate… now I ‘shop’ for topics. Sleep, also once a familiar friend, has become an enemy of sorts, snatching the elusive turn of a phrase or singing conclusion I’ve searched for all night in self-imposed insomnia.
My job – you know – the avocation that lines the pocket that pays the conference fees, that buys the postage stamps, that stuffs the envelopes with SAE’s, is what feeds the flame. Like maple syrup running down the tap into the bucket, every moment of my work has become nothing more than a funding source to fuel the addiction. I’m out of control. I can’t stop.
I can’t drive across town without “seeing” a story – hanging out a window, screeching by in a wildly-painted 1956 T-bird, or dallying in the middle of the street, making faces at me as it sidles past…. just slowly enough to antagonize by whispering the seductive message I cannot resist – “there’s a story here!”
I don’t talk to my colleagues anymore – I interview them! They laugh and string me on but then I hear the theme in their monologue, see the twist in their character, and I feel the pull – the challenge to create a story again – to find their soul and show them to others with just the right words.
The evidences of my addiction are at my side constantly. My favorite Zebra pens and the note pads are everywhere. It seemed normal when they took over the magazine rack in the bathroom, but I should have realized something was amiss when I began stashing them under my pillow, in the glove compartment, slipped into every coat pocket, between the file folders, in the hamper… yes, even there. Deep down I know it is because I am helpless against the intoxicating desire that can strike anywhere, at anytime, and I must be prepared to satisfy its call.
Face it, I tell myself unabashedly: writing what God has done is the one thing that I cannot NOT do.
Feeling brain-dead from searching for some elusive prose, I climb the treadmill to pray and pound out my disconnected thoughts, making room for God to write on the slate I definitely know is blank. Recorded scripture forces my concentration and I feel it flow through me like oil on a snarled gold neck-chain, relaxing the knots, smoothing the kinks and restoring its purpose.
Finally, thoughts that began as subtly as wisps of fog are curling into words that form on the tongue and waft up more delectable than the smell of freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies. They sift and swirl through my mind, reforming into their own life form until I get it – that high that nothing but writing words can match! At last those little words, those tasty bits of life and eternity that led me on, taunting for resolution, have come together.
Exhaustion and victory warred for supremacy. Both won.
The sense of fulfillment is so powerful, so confirming, that I am impelled to repeat the cycle, to revel in the view from the summit while simultaneously acknowledging that it is not really over. For me the pull of words will never be over. I live for that feeling of completion. Yes, these are the words of an addict and proof of the power of my obsession.
Because I have tasted, I continue. I know that every struggle is worth it to experience the one-step cure that at least temporarily alleviates the symptoms – publication!