Writing can be a dangerous occupation, especially for an addictive personality.
I read this article this morning about the dangers authors of the past faced.
One of the number one causes of a writer’s demise was the sedentary lifestyle, which can be murder on the body.
Not to mention the overbearing routines of author’s like Franz Kafka, Herman Melville and George Orwell. Who basically worked themselves into weakened states, burning the candle from both ends, as they say.
Then, throw in addictions like Honore de Balzac’s love of caffeine – he OD’d on the stuff, by the way – or Ayn Rand’s use of amphetamines, and you have a mortal combination of success and destruction.
It’s all in the name of literature, wealth, fame, and achievement. The need to create can be overpowering, but the legacy and the fear of becoming forgotten can be even greater motivators.
It’s interesting, Ayn Rand’s use of Benzedrine helped her finish her 2nd book, but at the cost of her mental well being when she almost suffered a complete nervous break down. Yet, she still stuck by her philosophy – Objectivism.
According to the Oxford dictionary, this means that she believed “certain things, especially moral truths, exist independently of human knowledge or perception of them.” It is a “tendency to lay stress on what is external to or independent of the mind.”
Basically, Ayn describes man as unconsciously driven by the pursuit of happiness. He receives validation outside of himself through achievement.
Study.com defines Objectivism as “a system of philosophy created by Ayn Rand [that] has 4 main principles: objective reality, absolute reason, individualism, and laissez-faire capitalism.”
Objective reality – things are still happening even when we do not see, taste, touch, hear, or smell them. Your basic tree falling in the woods and nobody is around to hear it – it still makes a sound.
Absolute reason – faith not included, just like batteries.
Individualism – one person is more important than the whole.
Laissez-faire capitalism – the economy and government are two separate entities and a person can only better their own economic and social standing.
I agree with Ms. Rand that the world is a very selfish place. Everyone seems to be in it for their own good, even charitably, but still making themselves look good in the public eye.
It’s egotistical morality, or “morality of selfish egoism,” as Ari Armstrong explained it.
Jonathan Freedland explained it in The New Age of Ayn Rand: How She Won over Trump and Silicon Valley – “Objectivism, she called it, distilled by her as the belief that ‘man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself.’ She had lots to say about everything else too – an avowed atheist, she was dismissive of any knowledge that was not rooted in what you could see in front of your eyes. She had no patience for ‘instinct’ or ‘intuition’ … or any form of ‘just knowing’.”
As a very intuitive person, I have a hard time seeing this or agreeing with her.
So, through her own pursuit of happiness, Ayn Rand almost destroyed herself trying to get her 2nd book written and sent in to the publishers on time. Her mood swings and irritability were nothing compared to her need to get that book published. It was her legacy.
Amphetamines though – the muse of the damned.
I’m all for ambition, but I’m not about to kill myself for a “garden [I’ll] never get to see.” – Hamilton
If you would like to read Ayn’s works or any of these other authors’ life shortening works for yourself, see below for links to purchase from Amazon, and help me become an Amazon Affiliate.
Cheers, and remember to go easy on yourself my fellow story creators and wordsmiths.
Ayn Rand Fountainhead & Atlas Shrugged
One thought on “The Dangers of Writing”
What an interesting post. I think this is why it’s always good to rely on internal guidance rather than external influences, even though it’s a hackneyed term and isn’t something readily accessible. Anyway, thanks for this post!