While I was bottling homemade wine and drinking beer along the way, a memory came back to me from my early adulthood. Back in those days we used to play a lot of Trivial Pursuit, the game of questions and answers, pies and colors. It fascinated us for two or three years, then became…trivial and unimportant. But during that time, every Sunday afternoon for a very long time, we played the game. It was during one of these games that a question came up and it’s one that had stuck with me for…well…decades.
What famous writer was an alcoholic?
My cousin, seated next to me, who was just trying to be funny, said, “All of them.”
Wow! Just like that. Everyone who has ever written anything, anyone who has ever been good, was an alcoholic. No one that had ever written anything had ever done so merely because the mood hit or because he was a good writer, full of brilliant ideas all his own. Just because they were alcoholic.
To be fair, there are a number of writers – great writers – who were alcoholic or, at least depended on stimulant of some kind. Edgar Allen Poe and F. Scott Fitzgerald certainly wrote while under the influence. One of our own contemporaries – I won’t name the name even though he has famously addressed and defeated his demons – wrote brilliant books, one of which he admitted to not even remembering. My point is to not denigrate these artist or their work, only to help us understand why some people might think that all who write are alcoholics. It’s the same way some think that all rock stars are drug users and sex addicts. It doesn’t make either of them correct. It just makes them perception and we all know where that goes.
I have to admit that I have written with success – at least in my mind – with or without alcohol. There was a time when I was young when I wouldn’t pick up a pen and paper or sit down behind a typewriter (Yes, I am that old) with any sort of alcohol in my body. Not so much later, I wouldn’t even think about writing unless I was drinking something. These days, it’s either or, I don’t have a preference. I can write as well as Tim Keen is capable of writing with a beer beside me or a glass of water.
As always when I post, this is not a judgment on you or alcohol. I am not interested in that. I just want to know how you write.
(Ah, shameless plug. Tell your friends about those Kindle books. Unless you didn’t like them. In that case, skip it.)
Thanks for reading as always,