The other day, a friend asked if I drink when I write fiction to heighten my creativity. However, I don’t do drugs; I am drugs.
Let me try to explain what I mean.
Hemingway had his mojitos, Oscar Wilde his absinthe, Bukowski his boilermakers, William S. Burroughs his heroin, Kerouac his benzedrine. F. Scott Fitzgerald his gin rickeys.
You may remember the Gin Rickey, which had a starting role in the 1925 classic The Great Gatsby. Tom Buchanan serves up four of them on a platter. Now draw upon your extensive knowledge of the book and the time period. Tom Buchanan was an old-money East Egger. Tom was “one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence,” Nick Carraway tells us. Not the most interesting guy you’d run into at a party. Let’s just say Tom’s creativity was not fueled by alcohol.
Mine isn’t either.
Gin Rickey recipe: Add gin to a Collins glass full of ice. Add the juice from half a lime and top with club soda. Drop that lime shell into the glass, and bottoms up.
But I digress.
Lots of literature has been substance-fueled. Even the Bible includes a scene where Moses has a tete-a-tete with a burning bush. Surely no drugs involved there.
So what do I do to ramp up my creativity and get the wheels turning? I drink coffee.
The reason why is simple. My fiction gets sloppy after I drink so much as half a beer. Embarrassingly so. At the time, mid-beer, I marvel at my every typed word. Funny, insightful, poignant! Best prose ever! Later, when I return to what I’ve written, I delete the rambling, self-indulgent mess.
Thing is, I don’t censor myself too often when I write, so that drink isn’t freeing me up to say what I really want to say. Instead, it’s helping to ensure I communicate what I want to say as ineffectually as possible. It impairs my judgment. (Weird, right? Somebody should do a study on the effects of alcohol on the brain. This rarely discussed topic seems ripe for exploration.)
I don’t do drugs; I am drugs. For real.
Now, I’m off to make a Gin Rickey.