Confessions of a Closet Writer Junkie

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Confession on how I began to write

Submitted: July 16, 2008

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Submitted: July 16, 2008

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Confessions of a Closet Writer Junkie
 
“That could have been sooo much better.”
“What do you mean?” asked my husband as the credits to the movie start rolling. The lights in the theater slowly illuminate and people began to leave their seats.
“Well, it had absolutely no plot,” I protested. “And the title didn’t even match the theme of the movie! And come on, it didn’t even flow very well.” As we begin to walk out of the theater, my husband looks at me and rolls his eyes.
When we return home, I have a feeling of anticipation; the rush I am seeking is calling to me. My urge to run to the computer is almost unbearable. I begin to rummage through the refrigerator just to give my fingers something to do.
“I think I’ll go work in the garage,” says my husband.
“Okay.”
“Yeah, I need to work on building those shelves for Steve. I almost have them done with just a few more coats of polyurethane to go. Did you know that I got a discount on the wood? The manager gave me a great deal since there was a nick in one of the boards.”
“Uh-huh,” I mumble, trying to figure out a way to get him moving. “I have to go to the bathroom. You know, it’s that time of the month again.”
“Oh,’ he says in a disappointed tone. “Okay, well I guess I’ll be out in the garage for a few hours.”
As soon as my husband shuts the door, I look out the window to make sure he has disappeared into our garage which is several feet away from our house. I swear under my breath as he decides to stop walking and look at his truck in the driveway. My heart is racing, and I watch in irritation as he bends down to inspect something on the passenger side door. I have little doubt it is probably some minor flaw in the paint that will end up costing us hundreds of dollars. I tap my foot, trying to control my emotions while I wait for him to finish his evaluation, and finally disappear into the garage.
This is my cue to run to the computer.
I only have a few hours and that isn’t much time. I hit the power button and the machine comes to life, humming happily away as it begins to load the main screen. As I wait impatiently for the system to come online, the realization hits me that I will do just about anything to get a moment alone.
So I can write behind a closed door.
I wasn’t always like this. I was actually a normal person at one time. Well, actually, I still pretend to be one. By day, I am known as the responsible, modest, corporate employee. By night, I am the strange woman who spends all of her time on the computer. The neighbors frown in disapproval if I ever come out of the house. Shaking their heads, they wonder what could possibly be a priority over weeding my flowerbed.
How the hell did this happen to me? When did I become a victim of such an addiction?
I think I was like any kid in the 1980’s. I stood in long lines to see Star Wars, dressed like Madonna, and pretended I was older than twelve so I could sneak into one of those new PG-13 rated movies. As far as school, I received decent grades but hated to study. And because I hated studying, I began to realize that my favorite type of test was an essay. While my friends groaned at the thought of writing even one sentence, I soon discovered I could write my way through just about any question, even if I didn’t know the real answer. This talent continued into college, where I studied only the key words necessary to pass my next essay exam.
After graduating, I eagerly threw myself into the business world. To be a success, I soon realized an employee must always speak in professional, corporate language. My writing soon blossomed into politically correct phrases to impress my manager:
To ensure the growth of the region, we need to foster solid relationships with our customers. Our profitability will depend on the ability to improve our talent selection with individuals that exhibit the success behavior of our contributor model.
After several years of writing in this style, I eventually concluded that I wanted to write something else for once in my life. I wanted to write something…fun.
It all started so innocently. I recall a particular day where I felt like my usual frazzled self as I tried to juggle a family and a career. With my husband working on second shift, I was left alone to deal with the household chores, including the job of chauffer for my two daughters involved in color guard competitions. Exhausted at the end of the day, I flicked on the television and some counselor woman was giving advice about nurturing our emotions. She expressed deep concern about bottled up feelings, which can translate into unwanted behavior. To overcome this, she suggested writing. Feeling tense and just plain stressed, I decided to give it a try.
And then I couldn’t stop.
Just one hit had me wanting more. The addiction began to grow when I discovered fan fiction, the perfect way to change existing stories and create my own. It was around this time my family began to notice my peculiar behavior.
“What are you doing on the computer again?” my husband would ask with raised eyebrows.
“Nothing…just, um, shopping,” I would reply. Worried he might see what I was doing, my fingers scrambled on the keyboard to pull up Overstock.com on the screen before he could stand behind me.
My lies began to grow, and I suddenly made excuses to research items on the internet, just to get a few minutes on the computer. Suddenly, I wanted to pay bills online, buy all our Christmas gifts through Amazon.com, and even check the weather through our local news channel website. Like any junkie, I began to look for any reason I could find for my next fix.
I was in complete denial. This was especially evident when I heard a diagnosis from my daughter’s doctor about Attention Deficit Disorder. He described her as sometimes lost in another world, unable to always control her growing imagination. Although I forced myself to concentrate at work, there were times I felt as if something was pulling me away, fighting against every S.W.O.T analysis I wrote in my professional façade. But the physician’s words were focused on my daughter, not me…or so I thought.
I finally became annoyed at myself for spending so much of my time writing stories that no one would even read. I drew a deep breath, and decided to share my stories online. But publishing my work was completely terrifying. Revealing my addiction, even if it was in front of people I didn’t know, felt as if I was trying to head down a twelve-step recovery program. Suddenly, every small piece of my soul was being revealed for criticism. My palms became sweaty on the keyboard as I demonstrated every weakness imaginable in grammar usage.
Then one day, I was surprised to discover I had a group of people following one of my fan fiction stories. Suddenly, I was being reviewed not just for grammar, but my story telling. To my amazement, reviewers began to comment on how they became emotional as a result of my writing. I began to receive e-mails, even a few comical death threats, from people who were impatiently waiting for my next chapter to be posted online.
The day finally came when I took another step from my closet by announcing to my family that I was working on a novel. My husband at first just looked at me, and I swore I could hear the crickets chirping outside with my happy little revelation. Fortunately, he nodded and seemed to understand. Or maybe he was just relieved I wasn’t chatting to some hot guy online. But over time, I received a supportive reaction from my family which increased my confidence.
As I sit here on the computer while my husband works in the garage, I realize I am not immune to relapses. I still have the urge to hide how much time I spend writing, especially as I must resort to using a flashlight to weed my flowerbeds so late at night.
But I also remember a time when I received a review from a woman who actually blamed me for a sleepless night. She could not stop reading my story and stayed up into the early morning hours, grumbling that she had to find out what happened to some of the main characters. She criticized me for having far too many cliff hangers, which only made her eyes strain because of her long hours looking at a computer screen. It was my fault that she became addicted to my story. It was at that moment when something registered inside of me. Someone was blaming me for their addiction to reading.
Good God.
I realized I was no longer a junkie…but a writer.
 
 


© Copyright 2017 Anne Burnside. All rights reserved.

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