THE BLOG
01/07/2013 11:06 am ET Updated Mar 09, 2013

Use Vice to Find Your Literary Voice

So many writing tutorial books and articles focus on your actual writing, that most of the time, the other, dare I say, more important, aspects of your would-be author career get overlooked. And of the other attributes key to your writing great, lasting novels, quite possibly, the most crucial one is vice.

Being an entertaining writer is all about having a "voice." And to get that voice, your life has to have a shitload of skeletons. Not just in your closet either, no, you need those fuckers crammed under your bed, in your medicine cabinet, and throughout your booze cupboard. You see, writers exist on a life out of balance. If you have a life in balance, your writing suffers terribly and you wind up writing Tom Clancy books. I shit you not -- it happened to a guy I know. He now lives in a duplex, wears Tommy Bahama shirts on the weekend, and has a whippet named Caramel. Yup, a real straight arrow kind of guy -- never wore a dress or huffed paint thinner once.

See the only difference between vice and voice is the "o" -- opioids, orgasms, and Old Crow. Hemingway and Fitzgerald were drunks, James Joyce was into some seriously kinky shit, and Carroll, Kesey, and Baudelaire were all about the narcotics. Not to mention Hunter S. Thompson, William Burroughs, and even Stephen King, who were all admittedly heavy users of drugs in their heyday. And that is but a tidy list, made concise by limitations of time and space. The point is, you wanna be great? Get hooked on something.

Now, of course I am not advocating that you break the law in order to become prolific, there are plenty of modern and perfectly legal demons with which to consume your non-writing moments (or your writing moments if you are good at multi-tasking). Gambling comes to mind. Think how fluid and detailed your characters can become once you yourself know what it is like to be pistol-whipped over a bad week at the dog track. Or how about S&M? Nothing screams good anguish and torment like having copious cigarette burns on your genitals. And did somebody say cough syrup?

In this day and age though, the true legacies will be foraged by cosmopolitan addictions. That is not to say the delectable cranberry-based cocktail, but rather, finding new vices with which to be consumed. Imagine how you will become the star of your writing group when attend your Wednesday night read-through in a neck brace, because your hot new yen is for crashing cars at high speeds. Or when Vanity Fair does a full cover spread on your predilection for self-amputation?

Why there is quite simply no limit to the number of ways with which you can build your writing life by destroying your personal one. How about a food addiction? Or you could even develop a sugar habit that would put the Night Stalker to shame. Anything, even exercise, can become a crutch when taken to the proper extremes.

Of course there will be doubters. Maybe your friends and family will try to stage an intervention over your newfound love for purchasing Confederate army-era bayonets with the intent of "insertion"? But this is the difficult, and often lonely, road to becoming one of the true greats. Hell, if your family becomes too much of an imposition, make your new vice starting-and-then-leaving families. Or when all else fails, join a really obnoxious cult.

Now because I am such a huge advocate of life-imploding habits, invariably, people will ask me what my own path to destruction is. And, well, I give them the same simple truth I will now share with you: I write mean-spirited columns that waste time and drive weaker minds to annoyance. Only fools, driven by desperation, would bother to read this column to its execrable fruition. And as I set a new blank page in my typewriter, eager to begin a new column, I see I have claimed another soul.

NOTE: This piece is satirical. All quotations are fabrications for the purpose of satire.

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