When you write at your leisure, when the children are asleep or in the evenings after work, and you do it because putting words on paper improves your disposition, without caring too much how good your writing is because you don’t plan to show it to anyone anyway, all is well.
But when you isolate yourself in a room, and lock the door and unplug the phone and maybe even drop out of school to write not only for yourself but for others too, in short, when you decide to become an author despite the odds, that’s when the troubles begin.
Writing Is a Vice
It is a parasite that grew out of your abysmal ego, and that you nourish with every sorrow, anger, or lust you feel, and that in time can sour your character forever.
The time you spend writing can be put to better use in other trades. You could become a doctor, a business man, or at least a lawyer. You could spend more time with your friends and family.
You could see more, hear more, feel more. You could have more lovers. But you seek gratification in this vice called writing thinking it will fill all the gaps that your own flaws leave in your life, and by doing so, you become less than what you could have been.
“Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure only death can stop it.” – Ernest Hemingway
Writing Is a Virtue
It clears the mind and soothes the aching heart and pacifies the hot blood and improves the disposition. It encourages you to find the story behind every person you meet. It makes you tolerant, open-minded, inquisitive.
It lets you take coarse chunks of life and smash them with your literary hammer and rearrange the fragments as you please, to make a beautiful mosaic, a story.
It is a mirror you can look into and discover your qualities and faults, and one that you can show others, to help them discover their qualities and faults. It is a gift that only few have, for as Dogberry puts it…
‘To be a well-favored man is the gift of fortune, but to write and read comes by nature.’
Writing – A Good Vice?
Writing becomes a vice when you abandon yourself to it. When you go to bed late at night eagerly awaiting morning, not to live, but to write. Writing becomes a virtue when you live first and then write. When you use it to make your life clearer, deeper, richer, prettier. When you enjoy ‘putting black on white’ with moderation.
But to become a great writer it seems to me that you must let writing become a vice. Without losing yourself in it you cannot find your other selves on paper, and create good characters, the backbone of every good story. The fact is this: many great writers suffered so they could write, and wrote so they could suffer.
Writing is my vice, I admit, but it’s the one I am most proud of.