(Probably one of my favorite essays ever, I wrote this for a competition and proudly won the big prize of getting paid to be published in Writer’s Digest magazine, July 2003. The cover of this issue is pictured here.)
My name is Lisa and I am a user… of words.
I was a casual user in the beginning. All talk. Then someone pushed a No. 2 in my hand and a Big Chief tablet under by nose. I learned how to roll an A off the end of a piece of lead. Next came a B. Before I knew it, I hit Z bottom.
It was not enough. There had to be more to these 26 characters. C-A-T. D-O-G. G-O-D. Oh, God, I had to keep going. I went from being a three-letter-a-word user to 10-letters and more. The words ran into sentences, into paragraphs. It wasn’t long until I was waist-deep in stories.
In the past and present I have had mixed tenses. I’ve abused contractions, and I used prepositions to end with. I even went through a period of thesaurus dependency/reliance.
Sweating and trembling, I have woken to voices in the middle of the night: “Write this, write that. Hurry! Before you forget!” Digging for my stash of paper, a pen, a pencil, a crayon, for G-O-D’s sake…what was that word? Where did it go?
I finally dumped Big Chief to shack up with a supplier who lives in a small house with his motherboard. Dell gives me the speed I need to try to keep up with the thoughts racing through my mind. I just need more space so the words quit tripping over each other on their way out of my head. Sometimes the good ones never make it.
I thought I could quit at any time, but then I went from just using words to dealing them. That’s when I really got hooked. I don’t have to close every deal, just something here and there is enough to feed my habit.
Using has led to hallucinations. Like the recurring one where my name appears on a book, next to a bright, floating star that reads “#1 Best Seller.” Shaking that vision loose from my head causes words to tumble helplessly therein. They want out. I want them out.
I take another hit on the key-board, pushing back letters that jump out at my fingertips, watching them leap up in front of me, black on white. One letter changes into a word, into a sentence, into a story. Then, it’s time to deal. I need that selling-my-words high. I need it bad.
The withdrawals are hell…o, do you want some of this? Just try it one time. Go ahead. Buy my words. Support my addiction.