It’s true when you inhale for the first time and the evil lure of nicotine sticks its hooks into your lungs the addiction is there for life. Yes, the muscle memory of the brain loves tobacco like a pre-menstrual woman loves chocolate, needs chocolate, must have chocolate. It’s like writing in a strange way – well, I think so.
With writing, the urge is always there, the need to turn experience, knowledge and inspiration into words on a page.
I’ve been lucky to be able to write freely with no complications for the past decade or so, if I had a story, I could write it down. Now my head is full of new commitments, and lovely as it is to have been given a new sense of purpose, I long to shout ‘just leave me alone for an hour – I want to write!’ But I know an hour wouldn’t be enough. Once I begin scribbling I’ll be there for hours, days, weeks – who knows, as I believe Winnie the Pooh once pontificated.
I’ve noticed of late I’ve been finding another way around the need to write. I keep interrogating the people I meet, once they start talking about themselves they can’t stop and I’ve discovered if you ask questions in a certain way out pour the anecdotes, stories and sometimes you get, ‘I shouldn’t really be telling you this… but—’ or ‘don’t tell anyone that, will you?’ As if I would. But at some point in the future Juan the ambulance man may find his anecdotal nugget in a book.
Not being able to write is aiding my memory. All those irresistible experiences I can't write down, I must share them. Each time I embellish the tale I’m telling a little. It becomes larger, sometimes more colourful, sometimes darker. Every time I retell it, it morphs until it gets to the point (swapping to a baking analogy now) when the recipe is done, adding any more to it would ruin it, make it over-fussy or unpalatable for those of a risk-adverse disposition.
So perhaps like the smokers who gave up and began vaping, gum chewing or crisp munching, I too have found a way around this period in my life when I have a larger, more insistent requirement than writing. Yes, like the Archers Susan Carter I too have become a scurrilous gossip.