- by Anna Jacobs
Sometimes I run workshops for writers, and a new crop of hopefuls turns up each time. The world seems full of would-be novelists. That thought keeps me on my toes.
I love the wannabes’ enthusiasm, and some of them have brilliant story ideas. That also keeps me on my toes.
But I always wonder whether I should warn those bright-eyed hopefuls of the main danger involved in writing: in a word, addiction. Juvenal (55-140 AD) called it ‘the incurable itch of writing’. Nothing much seems to have changed since his day!
This addiction creeps up on you slowly and you may not realize at first what’s happening. By the time you do, it’s too late. You’re hooked.
If I don’t write nearly every day, I get withdrawal symptoms and become distinctly grouchy. If I’m kept from my writing for a substantial period like a month, as I was twice last year through family illness, I become downright depressed. I’ve clearly got a hopeless case of story addiction. Perhaps I should start a Storytellers Anonymous support group?
And yet, no other job I’ve ever done has given me such pleasure. After nearly 50 novels I still get excited when a new book-baby is published or when I suddenly get a story idea that lights up my imagination, and my dreams are peopled with characters and scenes from all sorts of stories.
To appease my conscience, however, I’d like to take this opportunity to warn the unwary who are thinking of venturing into fictionland: story-telling is extremely addictive. It’ll affect not only you but your families or significant others. In fact, it takes a very special person to live with a novelist and the dozens of characters a writer has in mental tow all the time.
My conscience is now clear, but I doubt this warning will make a scrap of difference to you if you really do have the itch to write. And that’s as it should be. What would the human race do without its storytellers?