Tag Archives: muse

The First Step to Overcoming Literism is to Seek Help

English: "Only were to be seen the policemen, flashing their dark lanterns into doorways and alleys" Photograph first published in: Jack London, The People of the Abyss, Macmillan, New York, 1903, 319 p., facing page 115. [1]
Giving into the evil of write has long been acknowledged as a path to self destruction. Jack London photograph, 1902. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Only_were_to_be_seen_the_policemen,_flashing_their_dark_lanterns_into_doorways_and_alleys.jpg
His clothes fit for 30 years, and then they did not. Nothing fit.

The words popped into my head, the spear tip of a story piercing right through the fog and into my conscious mind. I could feel the whole shaft in that first prick of the sharp words. I could sense a story, I could almost touch the whole thing, complete.

For a moment it felt good. Like crack.

Then the alarms went off. Oh shit. This is how it starts, the literary thinking.

In a moment, I’ll find myself rushing off to find paper and pen. I’ll be curled up in some dirty, dark alley, a month later, scribbling, smiling, and talking to myself.

Begging pencils from strangers.

I have to stop it now. I must resist.

Let it go. Do other things, I told myself.

I went onto Facebook. The status box asked “What are you thinking?” And what I thought is: I could write a a few lines in there, or even a page, a short story. Is there a Facebook word limit? I could probably cram 80,000 words right in there. Once I start, it’ll be easy, like falling off a cliff, but believing you are flying.

No, no, you don’t. I closed the browser, and brushed by Microsoft Word as quickly as I could before powering down my laptop.

I took a walk. Words followed my every step, lurking just behind me in my subconscious. I felt a theme, ever so gently touch my shoulders. I walked faster, but the words quickened, too, more and more of them, and ideas, right behind me. I felt a little high, a little feverish.

I thought about getting a drink to drown the words out. Then I remembered Hemingway’s warning: Write drunk, edit sober. There are words in drink, he had tried to warn us; alcohol gives no quarter.

I knew I was on the very edge of falling into writing.

What I needed was some literary methadone.

I found Jill, who leads my writing support group, at Starbucks. Jill is my sponsor.

“Tell me about your story,” she said.

I did.

“And your themes,” she added, “What about the climax, and turning points?”

I told her everything. I released the ghost of a story right out of my mouth. I gave the virus to her, and she took it all, selflessly.

And then I was OK. The story was gone.

I went back home, never more thankful for belonging to a writing group.

I went to sleep.  I did not dream.