Why I Write

I freely admit that I’m a literary junkie. I live on stories the way a car needs fuel to run. It’s not so much an intellectual pursuit as it is a compulsion. When facing a dry well, I will, like any proper addict, succumb to read anything. The back of a cereal box works just fine for a quick fix.

It’s not my fault. This lifelong habit of loving books was fostered before I was old enough to know better. The resulting hunger always draws me back, for there is power in those ink-filled pages. The better the story, the more potent the spell. It is the ultimate magic trickI appear curled up in a quiet corner, but that is an illusion, for I am actually lost in another place or time. Of course, the imaginary world is never a replacement for the real one where I am happily entrenched as a wife, and busy mother of two daughters, but finding the time to feed that hunger is an eternal conflict. I resolve it the best way I know how. I burn the candle at both ends.

Putting a good book down is not in my nature. Armed with that knowledge, new adventures in print are kept at bay, waiting for the quiet moment where I might indulge for an undisturbed length of time. That would be ten o’clock at night, otherwise known as bedtime. One by one, my family members will kiss me goodnight. I will acknowledge their presence, briefly, while sinking deeper and deeper into my novel. My husband will enter the room (I think), sigh heavily, then leave with the admonishment, “Don’t stay up too late, honey, you need your sleep.” My response is always to assure him that I won’t.

I lie.

I don’t mean to, but as an addict, once possessed, I am lost. I even lie to myself, repeatedly, throughout the night—telling my weary body at midnight that I’ll stop once I’ve reached a certain point; appeasing my aching back at 1AM by shifting to new positions on the sofa—just one more chapter; deceiving my eyes at half past two—just one more page. My eyes balk, and the war of the orbs begins: they blur, I conquer and divide, offering each a brief respite for taking turns. They retaliate, inducing the slow burn and setting sails at half-mast. I enlist the aid of my fingers, propping my lids open by force. I promise myself that I will stop after the next bathroom break, then delay as my bladder screams abuse. I reprimand and cajole my body into giving me a little more time, a few more details, until the small hours of the night fade to an early dawn. By now I am done with the novel, but not with my deceit.

I know the running water as I brush my teeth will wake my husband. He might rear his head to check the late hour and, perhaps, scold me as I sneak into bed. His bedside clock is a nark, the dull red numbers glow like evil eyes: 4:30 AM. As a creature of some cunning, I cast a washcloth over it, avoiding the chastisement I so richly deserve, then submerge into the soft sheets. Five minutes later, the 6AM alarm screams and I must, painfully, begin a new day.

It’s absolutely worth it.

There are seasons in life when free time is a stranger, when even an extended evening can’t be spared. Commitments and priorities conspire, vying for time that I give willingly because the living are my most precious blessing and most vital need, but my desire for adventure does not wait patiently. Suffering from withdrawal, I seek to fill the void, spinning tales in my head for amusement and for my sanity. It is not enough. The ideas bounce around my brain, crying out for posterity, so I write them down and discover there is a world within me.