Remember that book and/or movie? “The Man With the Golden Arm,” written by Nelson Algren back in the 1950s, was one of the early novels (A FANTASTIC read, by the way), and certainly THE first big-studio Hollywood movie (it starred Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak and Eleanor Parker)that dealt directly with drug addiction—here it was heroin.
Well, I’m no druggie—never touched the stuff—but I’m still an addict, just as sure as was Frankie Machine, The Man With the Golden Arm. Except I’m addicted to WRITING.
Actually writing is not a bad thing to be addicted to. It doesn’t cost money like booze or drugs, it doesn’t make you crash your car into a crowd of people or fall down on the street and don’t know where you are, it doesn’t make you giggly or sleepy or give you the munchies. (Well—SOMETIMES it does…) But it’s something I feel I have to do every day of my life—my birthday, Christmas Day, Easter, Martin Luther King Jr.Day, Yom Kippur, Arbor Day, Saint Swithin’s Day (whatever the hell THAT is) or any other day of the year. THAT’S what addiction does to a writer.
I try to get in at least six hours a day of writing. My average at this stage of my life is about 1100 words per day (when I was younger, I used to write MORE words daily). There are those days when I’ll sit at the computer for those six hours, or even longer, and end up with one lousy paragraph—and I assure you that one paragraph is always harder to write in six hours than the 1100 words.
There are times when, for one reason or another, I’m not able to write. (Four years ago I couldn’t pop open my eyes in the Intensive Care room after awakening from open-heart surgery and immediately call for my laptop and a cup of coffee.) But after two writing-less days I actually start to twitch—my head is somewhere else when anyone tries to talk to me. After four days of not writing, chances are excellent that the first person who says good morning to me will have their face chewed off.
The recent terrible snow days in NE Ohio has been a good thing for me, as it more or less kept me from going anywhere that wasn’t important, leaving me more time to write. I’ve already completed my next book, a sequel to the 2011 stand-alone novel,”The Strange Death of Father Candy.” At least I THOUGHT it would be a stand-alone until I got another great idea for that book’s protagonist, Dominick Candiotti. And I’m VERY close to finishing my eighteenth Milan Jacovich novel. Yikes, that is my THIRTIETH book!!!! No WONDER I get sleepy sometimes.
The good news—for me, anyway—is there are three more juicy ideas simmering in my head, which will take me another two years to write, assuming I’ll still be able to sit up straight at my keyboard. By then I’ll probably have three or four more.
During my early New York and Hollywood days—probably when I was working a full-time job—I was a night person when I wrote. Now, though, I’m up fairly early and at my laptop—and if anyone wants to PHONE me before four o’clock in the afternoon—well, you damn well better be on fire!
Meantime, everybody out there, stay warm. And READ! I hope you read ME, but if not, please read SOMEBODY. You might be locked into a situation, or stuck in a rut. But read a book—-and you can FLY!