The audio version of this post appears below. Just click “play”.
Writers who were drinkers throughout history are as easy to find as writers who committed suicide. Yeah, I know one probably goes with the other but we shouldn’t assume that. I drink and write – not all the time, but a lot of what I consider to be my best stuff has been written when I was a few martinis or Absinthes in. Some people right now are going – “ah, that explains it” and clicking back to their Facebook page.
The thing is I’m a relatively uptight person whose mind never leaves me alone. Most of what is going on in there is a scattered mess of song lyrics from the ‘70’s and philosophizing on anything from intellectual subjects on high literature to how South Park episodes could possibly be the best morality plays in history. Yup, stuff like that. And, to get in front of that oncoming train about to wreck is no easy task. So, occasionally I need help. Not like Bukowski Barfly help, or three-week binge help, quite frankly anything I’ve written plastered is atrocious, but the kind of help that comes from a mild buzz at twilight. Of course, the product usually needs some light editing the morning after, but during the time I’m writing I find myself able to disengage enough to get to those things lurking behind synapses that remain generally out of reach when I’m full on engulfed in real life.
Writing is hard. I don’t care what anyone says, and anything that helps get your ramblings unleashed from within and out to whatever audience you’re looking for – even if it’s just for yourself, is fine with me. Now, I really don’t want anyone to think I’m condoning getting hammered just to find your inner voice – I’m not. I have a plethora of friends who are recovering alcoholics and I’m sympathetic to their disease and if I found myself on the wrong side of the bottle I hope I would have the strength to do what they have. But, if you can keep yourself in a controlled environment and need a little boost, then I say go for it. You’ll hear a lot of romance writers say they write with a glass of wine. It’s probably why they’re so prodigious.
Obviously, liquor is the not the only muse of artists. The examples of drug use throughout history are tremendous when you think about it. Drugs just don’t do it for me at all; I wouldn’t be able to write a single coherent sentence on anything stronger than Ibuprofen. But, that’s me, and again I don’t judge and think whatever works, works. The brain to me is like the universe – too much out there just waiting to be discovered. I’m not sure the Timothy Leary method of discovering what the brain holds is the healthiest way to do it, but who knows – maybe it is.
This is more than a little weird, but when I was a private investigator, I did a few exhumations and autopsies. On one case I was holding someone’s brain in my hand during an autopsy and had this vision in my mind of a little guy with a shovel digging into the grey matter figuratively excavating everything there was inside of it. (And, I was sober as a judge. Scary, right?) Then as the coroner was slicing it in layers, I thought, wow, imagine all that science out there devoted to pulling out every little piece of one’s consciousness. All those drugs whether legal, illegal, or experimental constantly working to peel away the secrets of a capacity we may never know we have. If I weren’t such a pussy, I’d try some of those drugs and see where they take me. But, I’m comfortable with the boost I get from the occasional mini-vat of vodka and am not willing to take the risk.
The risk being what I believe led to those suicides. I feel very succinctly that if I were to take it up four or five notches, I could easily go the way so many have before. Going too far into a dark mind like mine could be dangerous – hell, at this age I don’t even want to teeter on the edge. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t start to write until my late ‘30’s. I was pretty ballsy in my youth and if I started experimenting with drugs and writing it probably would have ended badly. As much as I live in my own head – I wouldn’t want to blow it up! (or off)