15 February 2016

Confessions of an Addict

I'm an addict. I wasn't exactly born this way, but, to my shame, I was encouraged by my parents, and my peers. It started small: a little Nancy Drew, a couple of Hardy Boys, the elusive Winslow Brothers. It didn't take long before I was mainlining Agatha Christie. For a while I switched drugs, went with Steinbeck and McCullers and a few Russians. But your first hit is always the best: I found John D. MacDonald and I was back on the hard stuff.

It wasn't until my mid-thirties that I became a truly hard-core addict. I'd played around with the real drugs a little as a kid, writing short stories and plays, starting a couple of novels. But in my mid-thirties it hit me: I should try writing mystery! Oh the rush. The tingle of my nerve ends. The fast beating heart. And so it began, this never-ending torture of writing a mystery. How many times have I told myself you can stop this. All you have to do is turn off the computer! And I do! Lord help me, I do! Every night I turn the damn thing off.

But then the morning comes. I try to ignore the siren song, but it just sits there, right in my living room, taunting me. Beckoning me. “Just turn me on,” it says. “You don't have to write. You need to check your email, don't you? You need to see what's on Facebook, right? Maybe play a game or two? It'll be okay. Really.”

But it isn't. Oh, I can do all those things: email, Facebook, a game or two, but in the end I'm right back at it: writing a mystery.

The books do end, which is just a hoax, really. My agent wants me to change this, my editor wants me to change that. Then the copy editor and the galley copies and it's over! But it isn't. Not really. Because the buzz is going on in my head, and my pulse is beginning to race. A new idea is forming. And it wants to come out and play. I've tried to stop. I held off for almost six months once, but this addiction has me by the balls. If I had balls. One day I might be able to pull it off. To stop. To end this torture of endless hours at the computer, of trying to figure out why one character did that when the other character should have seen it coming. Of wondering if there really is a plot, or if I'm just fooling myself. One day. Or I'll die trying.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Is it too obvious that I've been binge watching “Nurse Jackie” on Netflix? I didn't think so.


  1. Oh, I feel your pain. Thank God there isn't a 12 step program for writing / reading addicts. We can just drown in our addictions... Sorry, but I've got to get back to mine. Somebody's just made a terrible mistake and I've got to figure out why!

  2. Haunted by people who don't exist. I suffer too, Susan! And - gulp - sometimes I want to be with them more than with my family and friends. Shhh...don't tell anyone.

  3. Really funny, Susan. And oh, so true.


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