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.
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!