of drinking and writing

Edited to add: please don’t take this too seriously. It’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek. In fact, please don’t take anything I say too seriously. It will be better for all of us if you take me with a grain of salt.

Lots of famous writers are or have been alcoholics. From Ernest Hemingway to Stephen King, they’ve all suffered the influence.

The fact is, for better or worse, that alcohol lowers our inhibitions and — for some — levels the path to creativity. I’m not arguing that it’s good, but simply saying that this is the way things are. There’s a reason so many artists have substance abuse issues.

Take me, for instance. Other than a mildly alarming need for Diet Dr Pepper, I do not have any serious addictions. I’m also a total lightweight when it comes to alcohol. But I have noticed that a small glass of port or some brandy in my tea lubricates my writing organ. (Ew.)

Case in point: Monday. I was having a bad writing day. This does not mean a day on which I was writing badly, but a day where I was convinced that I’m a terrible writer, that I’ll never publish my novel, and that even if I did, what would be the point, because even books I love get shitty reviews, some written by snarky amateurs like myself.

So that evening I sat down with my laptop and a glass of port. The reservations started to fade, and the creativity started to flow. I had a little more port. Suddenly I was eloquent, talented, uninhibited: my characters, of course, followed my lead. I wrote, it turns out, over 1000 words in a single sitting.

I didn’t realize that until today though, because I became so drunk that I realized I didn’t understand what I was talking about anymore. I was forced to put away my laptop and stagger to bed, only to go accidentally to work at the wrong time on Tuesday, woefully hung over.

I was too scared to look at the scene I wrote while drunk until today. I almost had another glass of port (at 2:00 p.m.) to screw up the courage. But it turns out that it wasn’t all bad. Sure I used the word ‘silver’ twice in the same sentence. I may also have written ‘offer’ for ‘effort’ at one point, and abused prepositions. I did write 1000 words, fairly successfully, but maybe I could have written more — or better — words if I’d had a little less to drink.

So the point, I think, is use; don’t abuse.

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