Once upon a time, I was under the impression that alcohol and writing were the salt and pepper of the arts. I thought that borderline alcoholism was practically as important in achieving your literary dreams as having a writing instrument and a dislike of other human beings. Clearly I should have spent less time reading Bukowski, whose alcoholism seemed to almost make him, and more time reading Kerouac, whose alcoholism killed him (and ruined the two days of my life spent trawling through On the Road). My point is that the recent lack of posts cannot be attributed to a technological fault, unexpected heat wave, or even to my Harry Potter addiction. Indeed, my laptop lives on, British summer is still a bad joke, and I actually just borrowed Game of Thrones. My only excuse is vodka.
Over the last two weeks I have enjoyed a series of increasingly bizarre nights, starting with celebrating Christmas in the middle of August, peaking delightfully with being showered in Champagne, and culminating in sitting on a kitchen table waving a large wooden stick and singing along to the Cruel Intentions soundtrack. Despite various kindly (but undignified) friends ensuring that I was never the most embarrassed, the only thing I have written over the course of my recent vodka-fuelled adventures is an apology.
Which leads me to ask the question, how can alcohol aid writing? I have never known alcohol to help in the creation of anything, other than a mess. Alcohol is the drug of argument and embarrassment but never of ‘meant’. For instance: I did not mean to fall over my own feet; I did not mean to be overly aggressive; I did not mean to pass out with my head in the toilet. Apart from that aforementioned apology (which was written in felt pen, so I am clearly no Ernest Hemingway) I have never felt the urge to write when drunk. It is difficult to dance like an idiot and write your first novella at the same time. So are these alcoholic literary giants penning their masterpieces completely by accident, somewhere between getting stroppy and making better friends with their toilet?
There must be a reason to relinquish control of your work to your bottle. Perhaps it is about confidence, or more specifically a fear of rejection which is more relevant than ever as the internet makes it easier and easier for writing to be peppered with anonymous and unchecked criticism. With a couple of clicks of your mouse rather than your fingers – as if by masochistic magic – you play Russian roulette with words, never knowing if you will be praised, slated, or worse: completely ignored. Actually as far as I can see the masochism must be the true motivation to drink, not the false confidence it creates. Being miserable is apparently even more crucial than being drunk if you wish to be (and if you wish to write) a success story. In the destruction of literary legends that have abused alcohol literature is born, phoenix like, from the darkness within them. After all, how much critically acclaimed writing ends with ‘happily ever after’? You are doubtless more likely to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction if you drown your protagonist in their own tears than if you marry them to Prince or Princess Charming.
I just do not think a lack of sobriety would be a quick fix for me. I have spent the last couple of weeks in a semi-constant state of hangover hell, unable to pick up my spirits let alone a pen. And even if I spend years inflicting misery on my main characters, I would quite like my own life to be a happy one. Hopefully the more miserable I make them, the more money they will make me, and the less vodka I will feel the need to drink in the future.
One day I will stop drinking and live, hangover-free, happily ever after. For now though, Absolut is absolutely staying on my shopping list. I will just avoid mixing it with writing. Or, indeed, with anything.