I’m a writer. It’s not only who I am; it’s what I do. I write constantly. In my notebook. On my laptop. On scraps of paper I find lying around. During the week. On the weekends. In the middle of the night. At the crack of dawn. I’ve even written an entire scene while driving on the interstate. Okay, truth check on that one: I dictated the words and my wife Dita wrote them down for me while I kept my eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel. (I think she lost patience after a while, though, because each time I thought I was done “writing”, she would ask me if I was sure, I would respond in the affirmative, then another thought would occur to me less than five minutes later and she’d have to put down her e-reader and pick up her pen again).
And you thought living with a writer was all fun and games. Actually, it can be pretty fun sometimes. I have so many characters running through my head Dita never knows who she’s going to come home to at the end of the day. But she can also vouch for the ugly truth: writers aren’t very much fun when they’re not writing. In fact, I’m told we—okay, I—can be downright crabby when I go more than a few days without putting pen to paper or pecking away at my keyboard.
The best way I can explain it is writing is like an addiction for me. It has the same highs and lows and going cold turkey is a tough ask.
Each time I finish a book, I always say I’m going to take a break to clear my head before I start thinking about the next project. Two things invariably happen. 1) I start reading a good book and get inspired to start writing again well before my self-imposed deadline ends or 2) I start acting out my own version of a Snickers commercial. You know the ones I’m talking about. The various ads that urge you to binge on chocolatey peanutty nougatty goodness because “you’re not you when you’re hungry.” In my case, I’m not me when I’m not writing. Dita has never used the B word to describe me or my behavior when I’m suffering through withdrawal so I’ll do it for her. I can be a total butthead when I’m off my favorite narcotic.
Of the many witty bon mots attributed to quote machine Dorothy Parker, this one has always resonated with me: “I hate writing. I love having written.”
The process of writing can be laborious at times—choosing a setting, creating characters, deciding on point of view, crafting a plot you hope readers will find as appealing as you did when the idea came to you while you were taking a shower or walking the dog or sitting on the beach or—Well, you get the picture. And don’t get me started on writer’s block because that’s a story in itself.
But, despite the hard work (or, perhaps, because of it), there’s nothing like the feeling I get when the story elements start coming together and the light at the end of the tunnel turns out to be the finish line instead of a freight train rushing in my direction.
I say all this because I didn’t truly know what it was like to live with a writer until I wrote about one. Finn Chamberlain, one of the main protagonists in my March release 24/7, is a travel writer. Like me, Finn initially turned to writing because it was more fun to visualize her fantasies than live her reality. My circumstances have changed—as Finn’s certainly do during the course of the book, thanks to the sexy Federal policewoman she falls for and the pesky drug cartel threatening both their lives—but one thing has remained constant for both of us: writing.
Writing makes me happy when I’m sad, occasionally moves me to tears, and has taken me to so many places I never thought I would go.
Thank you for taking the journey with me. I hope you enjoy the trip(s) as much as I do!