Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Vices merit their very own blog post. Let's face it - we all have them in barrow loads. We might not want to name them, but they are there. Not so much skeletons in cupboards as character aspects we prefer to ignore.

Naming our vices is like inviting a hex - will they become permanent or completely take over if we make a list of all the traits we ignore? Let's see:


Listed in this way, they seem to belong to anyone but us - or seem rather good aspects to imbibe in a fictional character or two. Yes, we do this all the time as authors. And readers seek delicious vices in fictional characters, as a matter of course. How boring would novels be without vices? They are a prerequisite for entertainment. No drama, no vices - no enjoyment.

The worship of Mammon                                                                Image via WikipediaAt the very least, some iniquity or wickedness must exist in a story even if only to be vanquished, battled or changed in some way. I have yet to encounter a novel in which some sort of vice was absent.

Yet authors themselves battle with their own little sets of vices, and do not find them entertaining. Not a jot. The WRATH aroused by a mediocre review, that dares to damn with faint praise. The ENVY that arises when some unknown author gets to the 100 top list on Amazon with a 35,000 word "novel". The SLOTH that overtakes us when we just could not be bothered to boot up the computer and write the page that would contribute to the week's quota. The GLUTTONY that accompanies each meal time, as if to confirm that we are just eaters and drinkers rather than writers and thinkers. The GREED that makes us write with that dollar sign in our heads, rather than a delightful muse who beckons us to literary excellence. The LUST with which we decorate our characters, guiltily adding it, and hoping it will attract a readership. And the irrepressible PRIDE that completely takes over when we are so rightly lauded for our work. 

Well, that took some writing! I would have preferred going into the small sins of eating at the keyboard, or allowing the odd passage escape unchecked, or tapping out a nasty comment on someone's bothersome blog. We must admit to the tiny ones too.

Really? Must we admit to any of this? If we are human we have vices - it is not possible to live on earth without wickedness, sin, or even a tiny peccadillo; but surely admitting to any of this is similar to admitting we all need to brush our teeth or clothe ourselves, or eat and drink. Having vices is obvious, mundane and not special in any way. 

Unless we turn our cons into pros - as we have done for others. Vice is rather glamorous when seen in hindsight. The classic authors all had foibles we now smile at, but which must have been awful for their families to put up with. Although we all have a weak spot or two, we must take pity in those around us, and not subject them to biscuit crumbs in bed, unexplained absences, reading into the wee small hours, or long faces when there are no book sales.

What are your vices? Wait - no, don't tell me! Just say which wickednesses you prefer to read about in fiction.

If you are an author, confess: coffee in the keyboard? Pent-up frustration making you a bore at the dinner table? Go on, there must be something!


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  1. It depends on the character. The vice must be intrinsic to them. I'm inclined to think that all vices or negatives can also be a source of good in some cases. Eg what we call stubborness and a negative, in its positive form is determination. And even something like envy or wrath can be positive if the wrath is for a just cause and provokes some action. Or the envy inspires that person to do better. themselves.

  2. Those catholic lists; how well I remember them. Memorising all those vices and virtues I hardly knew the meaning of. Yet they are still in my head today. Maybe rote learning has its value. Give me a child till he is 7 ....sort of thing.
    Well I'm not telling anyone my vices. They can see for themselves without me informing them of more. I am a perfect Virgo, aren't I? Oh, that's right, that's the sort of comment that has my acquaintances jumping out of 10 storey buildings.Do writers have special vices. Spending money on electronic toys? (yes) Having inflated self-opinion? Definitely. Somone has to admire me! Laziness? Not right now.Absent-minded professor syndrome? At times. Go away don't bother me' personal skills? Certainly those. Oh well.Lust's on the back burner, Pride, there's nothing to base it on. Anger, haven't got the energy. I give up. Margaret S

  3. Great post and well done for incorporating the vices. My own writerly vice confession? I use everything. So twitch interestingly before me and my next character might do the same. Use an interesting phrase in a conversation at the table next to me, and I'm making a silent mental note. Everything is grist for the mill.

  4. Margaret - I can rely on you for a giggle, no matter the occasion!
    Maggie - I'm looking forward to seeing some twitches in Black Cow.

  5. Wrath -- hell hath no fury like a really raging person. Anger can make people go crazy and ruin their lives in a heart beat. I like to write about that moment and where it takes a person and what happens next. Sometimes good and sometimes very bad.

  6. When it comes to writing, Sloth is definitely the deadliest of the sins for me..

  7. Great post, Rosanne. And how true it is that we all suffer from at least some of these sins. Like you say, none of us really wants to admit to them. We would much rather attribute them to someone else, or to a character in a book.

    Procrastination is probably one of my worst enemies in the sense of getting things accomplished. I have always been afraid of pride, and was for many years on the opposite end of the stick - a low self-esteem i.e. a serious inferiority complex - which at some point years ago I realized was rooted in the pride I feared. Gluttony has never been a problem for me, nor has lust. I'm not greedy, either. I can get along with very little as long as it is enough. I would say I'm a combination of a social being and a loner, which I suppose is fine. That is, unless I'm busy being social when I need to be writing and being a loner when I should be socializing with someone. :-)

    1. Diane - sometimes I'd rather wash windows than write. We all belong to that club at some time or other!

  8. Rosanne, you got me thinking, this is the Catholic list. I wonder what we could add to it today. Would being permanently messaging be a new vice? Recklessly exposing your life to strangers on Facebook? Addicted to games on phone or computer? Living on takeaways because you can't tear yourself away from technology long enough to cook? Maybe, we should be adding to the list. It could become the new status, are your vices from the old list? Or the new list?

  9. Shirley, you certainly made me think. The Catholics do great 'Thou shalt not...' stuff, so a list like theirs was perfect for this.

    Perhaps your new list should be taken on by the great technological age. "Pride in my FB fan page" could top the list. Or "Sloth when it comes to cleaning out my registry."