Thursday, March 13, 2008
consider yourself warned: the top ten signs of the writing disease
People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.—Logan Pearsall Smith
Letters! I believe he dreams in letters!—Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
—“He has got no good red blood in his body,” said Sir James.—“No. Somebody put a drop under a magnifying-glass, and it was all semi-colons and parentheses,” said Mrs. Cadwallader.—George Eliot, Middlemarch
I don’t know how you feel about writers, or even how many writers you know. We can be tricky people—we’re susceptible to all kinds of trouble, from mild social awkwardness to major addictions, genius complexes, and chronic poverty. (In which case, we will be coming to your door, asking for bread in exchange for sonnets.)
If this alarms you, you might want to be on the lookout for us. Most writers will try to shield you from the actual event: the commitment of words to paper. And so, I’ve thought about the writers I know, the writers I’ve heard of, and I’ve even analyzed my own—ahem!—harmless preoccupations. What follows are ten warning signs that your friend, roommate, or family member (hereafter called the “subject”) may be slipping into writerly tendencies.
Monday, March 03, 2008
the habits of an addict
Books have to be heavy because the whole world’s inside them.—Cornelia Funke, Inkheart
We are the Jasons; we have won the fleece.—Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
I’m beginning to wonder if I have a serious problem. The librarians certainly seem to think so.
I come to the library alone, half an hour before closing, and try to look innocent until I can duck out of sight, behind the kids’ stacks. And then, from my coat sleeve, I pull the handwritten list of the books I’m hoping to find. I move quickly, tucking books into my large red bag, muttering those three-letter call numbers over and over as I work down the aisles. (There’s a girl at the far end of one aisle who backs away when she sees me. Do I look too focused? I smile. But instead of looking reassured, she seems to change her mind about the value of visiting the library.)