The Curse Of Writing


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Writing is a curse! A virus that spreads and replicates throughout its host body; it affects every aspect of one's life. Even sleep is no escape. Non-writers look forward to sleep, “perchance to dream". They allow themselves to luxuriate in their dream world. For them, sleep brings a life apart from their humdrum reality. For the writer though, sleep brings no such succour. Dreams are unfettered inspiration: they have the writer scrambling for his notepad and pen from his bedside table.

For the elite who achieve celebrity status through their writing, the curse still keeps them in its cancerous clutches. For example, many writers have made so much from their writing that they need never work again, yet they still write. To voluntarily stop writing would be as achievable as holding one's breath forever. Inspiration would come inevitably, in both senses of the word.

Throughout the centuries, the image of the tortured writer in a dingy garret has been a powerful one. The power of the image springs from its truth. Writers have, as part of their being, a troubled and tormented soul. Their tortured minds and bodies litter the history of literature like so much flotsam and jetsam. They often, seemingly, try to stamp out the light of their creativity with drink and drugs. Among these, I would include F Scott Fitzgerald, Dylan Thomas, Brendan Behan, Ernest Hemingway and Jack Kerouac. In fact, Brendan Behan once described himself as " a drinker with a writing problem". Other writers have tried to use both substances to increase their creative flow. William Burroughs, Carlos Casteneda and Thomas de Quincy feature famously among these.

Ray Bradbury, a successful writer by anyone's measure, states, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. "

Brian Balmer


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