NOTE: SSS Archive posts are reposts from a defunct blog usually with minimal edits. Thoughts contained are not necessarily anything I believe any longer, and even in the posts I’m still on board with (and consequently posting here), there’s sometimes some cringe. Be advised, and take it all with a grain of salt and some generous patience.
There’s this popular misconception of writers that, as a stumbling drunk, I’ve done little to dispel – namely, that we’re a bunch of stumbling drunks. There’s no denying that a lot of writers drink a lot. Hemingway has a gin-soaked reputation, but was probably eclipsed by Fitzgerald in raw quantity. Bukowski? More like booze-kowski, amirite? Raymond Carver only put down his cigarette to take a swig of whiskey – anyway, there’s this long tradition of lushness which I, a complete lush am going to advocate you skip.
Booze does many wonderful things: it loosens you up at parties, it makes you more charming, clever, funny, and attractive to the opposite sex, it makes you a better dancer, and it kills off all your weak brain cells. It reminds you to text girls in the middle of the night (so that they don’t think you’ve forgotten about them) and it makes you a better driver. This is all a scientific fact.
What’s also totally factual is that it will fuck up your typing. If you’re one of those pretentious shits who writes everything out longhand, well, it fucks that up too. Certainly, this seems like the sort of thing that a good Spellchecker should handle, but it won’t. Rather, it might fix the words, but it can’t fix what you actually write – that nonsensical stream of drunken-ese babble that makes sense only to a slobbering, slurring, lazy-eyed version of yourself who you will be embarrassed to say you know in the morning.
The typing itself is a colossal distraction. You will catch about every third word that you fuck up, and it will be enough. You will spend valuable writing time hunting and pecking for the backspace key, and then when you look back up at the screen (provided you don’t vomit on yourself from all the sudden moving around) you will have totally lost your train of thought. While this is a good thing for the world at large, it’s terrible for you and your attempt to finish something today, TODAY man, no more putting it off!
Now typing aside, as I mentioned, what you write will not make a goddamn lick of sense. Alcohol is a dissociative drug, which means that in addition to dulling the pain of every day life, it literally dulls your senses. You can see something, but not really perceive it. You can hear something without listening. Your every experience becomes mediated through a haze of some really loud guy telling an impossibly boring story to a girl who is way out of his league.
Hint: the guy is you. The girl is your reflection in the mirror behind the bar.
So you find yourself unable to write and with nothing to actually write about because for all the value of your experience, you might as well be watching television. You’re forcing a haze between yourself and your work, as well as yourself and the world, which you will not be able to write around unless you have years and years of experience doing it straight, or learning to see through the veil.
Hemingway could do it. Fitzgerald could do it. Buchowski wrote about the veil itself. Carver had an editor. You can’t, you aren’t, you don’t. Drink on your own time, but when it’s time to pound keys, stick to coffee.
I can’t in good conscience ever tell someone not to drink, because I pretty much drink all the time, but in the tradition of all those literary greats mentioned above (except Buchowski, m’thinks), I put the sauce aside when it’s time to write, and you’ll find that’s true of most writers, hardened alcoholics or not. Booze is for play time, or for speeding through the long hours of a dull day.
The writing should be your passion, your raison d’etre, and comparing it to another passion might help this analogy along.
If you were out with a lady and it was a sure thing, how much would you have to drink? Enough to loosen up a bit, relax, and get out on the dance floor? Or so much that you throw up on your shoes, and then piss yourself and cry as she takes pictures of you to post on the internet?
Thought so. Now put a cork in it and get to work!
Looking Back – 26 May 2021
I may have mentioned, in a previous SSS Archive post, just how much absolute crap I wrote in 2009-ish. This, however, despite some clunk is not one I’m ashamed of.
I mean sure, there’s some residual dude-bro-ness here, some “lad talk,” some capricious cruelty and mean-spirited humor…but it’s not egregious, I don’t think, and the central point is sound.
The irony here being that I actually drank too much wine and wrote last night, so perhaps I’m being a big hypocritical…but in my defense I have not yet looked at last night’s pages, so for all I know I’m about to go delete about 1000 words.
Ultimately, this is a short “looking back” entry because in regards to writing and drinking, I agree with what I said then to the point that I’ll say it again now: don’t write and drink.
You also shouldn’t drink and drive, text, or really do much else. I’m sitting here now feeling like absolute butt on account of one two many glasses of boxed wine, trying to form a coherent thought, and thinking “wow…what was the point of that?” But then I remember “oh yeah, I was bored,” so that’s the whole story.
Right. Off to get some Pedialyte. Maybe an aspirin.