We are sculptors, writers are. We are painters and composers. We shape, we paint, we shape the music of the phrase, we transfer the ethereal forms of what we see and hear into tales that reach (or so we hope) beyond the materials and meters they are made of.

But before anything else, we are junkies.

We are addicted to words. The sound of them. The shapes of the ideas in our mouths. The of course of the sounds. The excitement in the veins of an interpreted reality that is truly our own.

The addiction starts with the words and phrases we’ve cherished, nurtured, carried in our heads like handfuls of smoke until we can set them down safely into tape recorder or keyboard. We try them on, from the inside—just this one time, we tell ourselves. The words are the taste of the idea; the first fix.

This is not always a gentle addiction. The ideas churn where we’ve placed them. They keep us up at night. They itch and they cramp until we’ve done the more they demand. The more is the assembly of the notes into the emotional logic of passage and chapter.

And now things get tough. The easy invitation of the taste becomes a raging want. We want it right. We want it to make sense. We want better than we have and better than we are. And even when the chapter is whole—and even satisfying—are we content, the writer-junkie in all of us? No. Can the passage be bigger? Can it have more propulsion and pull? Does it do justice to the living need that had become bigger than we are?

And once it’s done, are we in the clear? Think again, addicts.

Another sampling awaits: a new story that promises to be bigger and richer and more overwhelming than this one was. And, for a while, at least, it will be glorious. Until it hurts like hell, this want that knows no rehab.

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