and we all have a few dozen going!
by anita sands hernandez

I used to say I had writer's block. Now I rephrase it. I confess that I have a dozen weird addictions which I do daily that are so pleasureable and time consuming that I cannot shake them and get down to MY LIFE WORK! But why quit? They're not aging or health-damaging addictions. It's just that because of them, I can never get a stitch of work done on my 30 unfinished NOVELS which were going to make my 4 kids and my 7 grandkids rich!

I can list these distracting, bad habits which one way or another, keep me from being a focused famous, much enjoyed entertaining and highly paid WRITER. (sigh!)

First, what I eat at breakfast would make the world's oldest person rise from a wheelchair and run like a Cheetah -- homemade jam on bible bread toast, strong black Colombian coffee. This breakfast gives so much overkill rocket energy that one can't slow down for meditative, creative writing. The languid intuition disappears. One is verbal without soul. Like a runaway out of control car on the freeway. One rushes out to the garden to water, dig, plant, move, pot up stuff or transfer stuff in pots to the ground. COFFFEEEEEE AGRICULTURE!

The very fact I cling to a caffeine & starch and sugar breakfast is morally dubious when I will eat a corn tortilla at 4pm, toast at midnight with eggs. That's a lot of CARBS!  Of course these addictions are interspersed with wholesome protein & vegie meals as I'm not suicidal. (As I write this I'm eating a nasty stack of beets.)

Other addictions, gross timewasters, veritable time eaters. I  will list them just in case you recognize some of your own weaknesses and figure out a cure and can send remedy to me:  Answering EMAIL. That can take all day. I get sent liberal editorials on current events which I have to pass on, often after formatting. staying on the computer all day. That rewriting them and posting them at my website is a second addiction. The Master Jules said that OPINING was a waste of time.

My third addiction is the garden. I really do have to water front/ back and side yards daily, (Forgive me Governor Jerry Brown!) and do  some gardening, baby plant-nursery care, transplants, edging new beds, composting them.

My fourth addiction is begging a ride to the nearest market daily for the bent can, day old bread bargains, for catfood, doing a little dumpster diving, garage sales on weekends, and when I can step past the CHAOS  in my office, a snow storm of old novel outpages on floor, well un-collated by cats... (see how to fix the MESS FACTOR by clicking there.)

Fifth addiction, the  REMOTE! Which leads to the TV news blaring Garden shows in my left ear while I E-mail back and forth with new astrology clients and friends.

Then there's rent paying addictions like doing actual natal horoscope charts and analyzing them, sending the DESTINY READING off to clients who paypal me some real money. 15$  (I'm at paypal)

Then there's charitable addiction: giving  free tarot or horoscope readings to neighbor ladies in a barrio where nobody has a nickle, (Not like my posh L.A burb in the old high rent days!)  I used to take my children to Acapulco regularly. THAT was an addiction!

But now that they're grown, and my neighbors are Mexican maids, there are no horoscope clients. So that freed up time to write a few mini-articles daily for my FREEBIE SEMINAR websites on ecclectic subjects from How to buy Real Estate with no money, How to reverse aging, How to raise babies to be cosmic adults, How to Marry a billionaire, How to write a hit book, yes I dare to teach that, as it's well known that those who cannot....TEACH! How to write a Screenplay, How to Produce a film.

And do an article like that it's time to relax from all that effort by watching primetime TV shows of which there are less and less lately. So I'm clicking vintage channels but most of the best have disappeared. "Becker" was the best comedy I ever watched. . DEAD LIKE ME, superb. The fab sci-fi show, now defunct, unique "Journeyman", a fine show, not an addiction at all, necessary for brain health. Then Law & Order reruns, NYPD BLUE reruns, superb show. Cold Case, Masterpiece Theatre from the BBC, Inspector Lewis, Miss Marple, Ken Branaugh as the Swedish cop and an obscure CABLE CHANNEL called MHTV for European cop procedurals.

Nothing made recently is as good as these although lately there's a very watchable cop show BATTLE CREEK and the best thing on American TV "THE GOOD WIFE", a GRISHAM TYPE SERIES with Julianne Margolis. Five years it's lasted and I was totally ADDICTED from the first episode.

To top off the law/ crime cop procedural show glut, you will find me reading   mysteries or thrillers until dawn. And my sole author on the other side of the fence,  in literature, ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER's SHORT STORIES.

Weekends have their OWN addictions: hitting the garage sales,  driving around all day looking for cheap, used books, bookshelves, artware pottery, vintage kitchen accoutrements. The mania of COLLECTING. Quelle vice! 

What I DO NOT HAVE is the biggest vice of kids today, CELEB INTEREST. Read up on how to lose THAT time waster, but my vices are still all meaningless, boredom-staving timepassers but they are also very fulfilling tasty and amusing. Truth be told, they are addictions and they slow me down from my appointed rounds! I should wake, have my coffee and go to work on my own novels, picking up where I paused at page 260, and finishing each of them, and then I should send them to NYC agents! GET A LIFE!

I am full of writing talent but I choose this banal, addiction-ridden life! Go FIGURE! I now understand those middle class kids who write novels complaining that their parents are boring. How they're addicted to classes or groups, country club, bingo or mah jong or are home imbibing Scotch with their pals in the den and playing cards.
Kids can spot how we adults turn to frivolous pursuits to support us emotionally or stave off boredom. They just don't realize that they too are well on the road to this with pals/ cell phones, mall visits. For a few it's sexual affairs but for most of us, it's shopping, reading, tv, coffee and sweets to pep us up, to 'gird our loins' for the daily war. For many it's a beer to relax us after the fray.

We use our  addictions and body tuners, to thwart stress and then to fill downtime which may be too tame. Life is full of routine, boredom so our addictions are calculated to be RELIEF. In reality,  all our addictions throw the body OUT OF TUNE and waste TIME and end up slowing us down in a huge way.

Years ago my son noted that I went at my morning coffee the way an addict went at his needle, falling on it with gusto, with need, religosity almost. He noted that I made coffee like black lava using no tools known to man. I made hobo coffee! I have control over those beans! I extract their power. I was after the maximum effect. My son, who understood cocaine briefly, and a little too well, could see all that ---while I carefully simmered water, brought it to a boil, turned off fire, threw in double heaping tablespoons of fresh ground Colombian, let it steep five minutes then strained it into the cup (fine strainer) as if I were making communion wine.

Because I KNOW that have a few addictions, I am watchful for signs of new addictions and now see  how I am drawn to watching THE VERY BEST SHOWS, the real winners, all of them  NOW-CANCELLED  (Remember DEAD LIKE ME/ LIFE ON MARS? JOURNEYMAN, "Surface",  Invading Aliens with Carla Gugino? "Surface" ( NBC had those 15 wonderous episodes with the kid who adopts an alien reptile whose species has invaded earth's oceans!)

I watch the funniest of all shows, BECKER (Ted Danson,) in RE-RUNS until that vein ran dry. Watch the 70's show, as TOPHER GRACE was going to be the next TOM HANKS.....What happened? People actually prefer BRAD PITT?

There's so much superb TV out there that I never saw in first run primetime. LAW AND ORDER. Back when Jerry Orbach was around. NOW I seek it out on back channels. For a long while VINCE D'Onfrio was my main crush, him and the blonde my faves of all. And I also fell under the spell of DA VINCI INQUEST, a Canadian MORGUE procedural. Man! A TV set is like having a free lobotomy nightly!

I see myself in my mental mirror, 10,000 books stacked around me, the walls of every room high with bookshelves, rooms so thickly padded that FM radio waves can't get in or out and I realize that for years before I got cable, I loved  FM radical RADIO talk shows, almost forgot that addiction!

So that's my addiction. Instead of writing novels, I'm lying there devouring mysteries and thrillers clicking a remote like a giant, literate hippo, munching away at the scenery. Then cuz I'm a groupie, a psychlogical malady that goes with physical ones, I'm reading BIOS of  the great writers, addicted to those, too! Henri Troyat writes great ones.

I am carefully noting the multi-featured features of addiction in shame and horror yet I confess them all no cure has come. I slavishly read about the great writers with the same vengeance that I read everything they ever wrote. Not Melville, Austen, Alcott, Twain or Dickens! Who's talking about THEM? I'm talking about Daniel Silva, LEE CHILD, ROBERT PARKER, LAWRENCE BLOCK, FREDERIC FORSYTH, SUE GRAFTON, Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, Stephen Hunter, Vince Flynn, Stieg Larsson. I read every single scrap they ever wrote then like a hippo who has mowed the lake and the lawn and the meadow with her immense jaws, I move on, grazing, seeking new fields to plow:  Daniel Woodrell. John Burdette James lee Burke and JOSEPHINE TEY's DAUGHTER OF TIME. Read that and you'll have to go down these same country lanes that I wander in.

I know that I have to go back to the keyboard and create. ALL THIS INHALING and no exhaling. But in the morning when I am about to start writing...there's email to do, people to answer, then my coffee and buttered toast wears off, ---I have high level munchies but eating and digesting protein stops me cold, produces sleep, really takes it out of me. Gotta kick back, watch endless CREATIVE COOKING shows and all the BBC news half hours and all the BEEB mystery shows, Gently and Marple while I type articles on HOW TO WRITE MYSTERIES and THRILLERS. Sticking all of it in the NOVELISTS SEMINAR, the FILM WRITER's INDEX or the the HOW TO WRITE AND GET TO HOLLYWOOD ARCHIVE.

So I end up teaching writing online but not being a writer. Just being addicted to media And I live in constant fear of escalation into MOVIES TO ORDER, ONLINE.  I hear that when you start you can't stop, like when you start with grass, it escalates to coke then downers then heroin --meaning if I got movies to order, it would lead to flicks on my monitor.

Do you have remedies for the ADDICTION THAT ATE THE ADDICT? For getting out of ruts? Does one just stop cold? Do I quit collecting vintage stuff , hitting garage sales on weekends, quit ordering used books at ABES, with my fabulous GET LOWEST PRICE EVER METHOD?? DO I quit eating starches and just lock myself in a room with a soy shake and no TV news, just a PC and keyboard, no email capabilities and pour the energy into a few books? Screenplays? COLD TURKEY. Is  that the ticket?

I found one thing that worked. LIKE MAGIC. I finished breakfast, went to my altar and prayed, 'dear God help me break through writer's block and work on my latest novel' ... I went to the computer, re-read old pages where I left off and just went and did a full days' work like a fish slipping back into a lake when the Big Fishermen threw it back. Paddled around happily until it was time for NYPD BLUE re-runs, 4 PM L.A. calif time.. Then thought, 'Eh, been there done that' and kept writing. Let's hear it for the power of prayer.

Anita Sands Hernandez does a natal horoscope from scratch, 15$ She is found at astrology @

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