When’s the last time you wrote drunk?
There seems to be a perception, propagated by such literary
heavyweights that are famous for exploits, like Hemingway, that one can create a masterpiece while under the influence.
I’ve been asked more than once if I drink while I write. It
seems on par with asking a heavy machinery operator if they’ve taken a few nips
off the old flasks prior to firing up the Cat, or pouring an airline pilot a
few draughts of Guinness whilst awaiting takeoff.
So my short answer is no, I don’t drink while I write. I
don’t drink before I write. If I am clumsy enough to get near a keyboard after
imbibing, I tend to warn people in the subject line – JT’s EWI (emailing while
intoxicated) – so I won’t be taken seriously nor made fun of for my
You see, I CAN’T write under the influence. Of alcohol, that
Now before you get excited, I’m not talking about anything
illegal. I’m not a big drug proponent. What you do in the privacy of your own
home is entirely up to you, and as long as no one is in danger and small animals
aren’t being harmed, I couldn’t care less.
But there is a drug that frees my mind, allows me to think
past all the barriers I bump up against in my daily, tethered life.
Nitrous Oxide, better known as Laughing Gas.
You see, my incredibly lovely dentist is new school. He sees
absolutely no reason to torture his patients. When you get right down to
it, a relaxed, calm patient begets a better result. I couldn’t agree more.
I looooove going to the dentist. It’s Fear and Loathing in Nashville.
There’s something about the nitrous that expands my
horizons, if only for an hour. I lie in that chair and flat out create. I have
an arrangement with Vicki, my technician. If I hold up a hand, she stops and
lets me speak. She nods and agrees and promises to “write that down.” Then we
keep going. I’m entirely aware the whole time, just… unrestricted. I’m
brilliant under the gas. Mind-bogglingly inventive. I could probably cure
cancer if given the right components, but hey, I’ll settle for a plot twist or
There’s only one problem.
Nothing makes sense. When you come out of it (takes just a
couple of minutes) all the fire and brimstone and luminous perspicacity is
gone. You’re back to being you.
So I wondered about the rest of you. Do you use artificial
means to further the process? Or are you like me, prudishly making the synapses
fire while decidedly non-juiced?
This post is in honor of all of my wonderful writing buddies
who are attending Left Coast Crime and Love Is Murder, cavorting and imbibing
and networking, oh yes, the networking. I miss you guys!!!
I guess we should skip the wine and go with
shooters. Someone hand me a lime and the Patron, please.
PS. Feeling creative? Jason Pinter is running a contest over at THE MAN IN BLACK blog to determine, well, what kind of contest to run to promote his debut thriller, THE MARK (Mira Books, July).