Tonight I'm going to my critique group's annual holiday meeting. Instead of going to our beloved coffeehouse with The Best carrot cake, we're going to an Italian restaurant. And instead of sticking to our normal format of critiquing two pieces of work, we'll be sharing literary work — our or someone else's — related to a certain theme.
This year's theme is addiction, as in "an uncontrollable compulsion to repeat a behavior regardless of its negative consequences."
We all know addictions can ruin people's lives and are not to be taken lightly. We also know there's a wealth of great literature that depicts the ravages caused by obsessive behavior.
This is not a post about either.
Instead, it's a lighthearted if-I-were-an-alien-looking-down-on-this-weird-life-form-know-as-homo-sapien (Latin for "wise man," a rather large cosmic joke) listing of material I'm going to bring to a light-hearted event:
Wacky, But Real, Addictions
• Tanorexia: addiction to tanning; may increase endorphins, causing a “runner’s high”
• Pagophagia: obsessive need to chew ice; can be a sign of low iron
• Geophagy: addiction to eating dirt; common in economically depressed societies where diets are scant in minerals
• Trichotillomania: obsessive need to pull hair anywhere on the body; physical stimulation that relieves anxiety
I listed the above addictions for the obvious cheat of making my own appear less-so:
• Scribophagia: an addiction to writing; increases endorphins, causing a “runner’s high”
• Earlyaverseomania: the strong aversion to being even a few minutes early to anything; often results in being a few minutes late, causing an increase in endorphins that results in a “runner’s high”
• 7-Eleven Cheap Cappuccinonphagy: an addiction to 99-cent cappuccinos from a machine that whirs loudly and manages to froth the highly-sugared hot beverage in a most satisfactory way; knowing the drink did not cost $4 or require standing in a long line at a high-end coffee shop increases endorphins, causing a “runner’s high”
Fodder for Character Development
Needless to say, such oddities in ourselves and those around us provide a fantastic source of comic — or serious — material for developing characters. Before you start writing your story, ask what addiction each of your characters possesses, because if each of us has at least one — even if we don't admit it — our characters probably do, too.
I'm a writing junkie looking for other writing junkies who are in this gig for the cool of it. People striving to be better writers because that's where their minds fly. I've accrued any number of writing credentials: author of "Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up: A Thorough Primer for the Writers of Fiction and Nonfiction"; writer of short stories published in Watchword, the Berkeley Fiction Review, Iconoclast and other literary journals; journalist of hundreds of articles for such publications as the Chicago Tribune and Inside Karate Magazine; playwright of a play produced in Hollywood. But what I'm looking to create now is a safe haven for writers where they can forget the brutality of the publishing world for awhile and help one another jump literature to a new level. If you're that person, or would like to be, welcome.