Under the Influence

JT Ellison           

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
extemporaneous  riffing.

You see, I CAN’T write under the influence. Of alcohol, that
is.

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.

                       250pxnitrousoxide2ddimensions

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
two.

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).

17 thoughts on “Under the Influence

  1. Deirdre Savoy

    I can’t write under the influence, either, not because I’m prudish that way (or that opting not to write while under the influence is prudish), but every word I write is pure crap. I end up throwing it all out. A waste of a perfectly good buzz. NO makes me way too silly to be of any use. I’ll stick to my caffeine.

    All the best,Dee

    Reply
  2. Deb Kristy

    I’m way too busy regaling my husband with HILARIOUS and FRESH NEW stories about my childhood when I’m drinking to write!

    Have fun at LCC and LIM all. Those of us left behind are terribly jealous and will pout for days.

    Reply
  3. Bryon Quertermous

    I get way too tired when I’m drunk to write anything. However, I’ve done some very fine work hung over.

    My big eye opening enhancer in Nyquil. Shoot me up with some of that and I’ll write you the most glorious and trippy prose you’ve ever seen.

    Reply
  4. Keith

    There was one scene I was overthinking, so I made a couple of martinis, got schnockered, and knocked it out in about five minutes and two paragraphs. The result is a keeper, but I couldn’t write the whole book that way.

    Reply
  5. Derek Liether

    When you said that nothing makes sense after you come out of it, was that including the ideas that you had the technician write down?

    If so, then you’re just talking about the illusion of “hyper-think,” as I refer to drug-induced thought that seems to be somehow superior. I think that, when on a variety of drugs, people tend to make connections much more quickly than they normally would. The only downside is that the connections between each of your ideas are considered almost elementary to your NO’d mind. Then, when you come off of the high, the bridges have been burned and all you are left with are a series of unconnected islands.

    I, like you, have so-far been unsuccessful in rebuilding those bridges post-trip. But, theoretically, I think it’s possible.

    Reply
  6. G. T. Karber

    Melatonin is the only drug I like to write on. That’s the hormone that regulates the sleep cycle, and I only seem to be productive when the claws of sleep begin to clutch at me.

    Reply
  7. JDRhoades

    I’ve occasionally written while intoxicated. It’s loosened me up a bit and sparked a few creative moments. But lord, does the proofreading the next day ever hurt.

    Reply
  8. JT Ellison

    GT, that’s actually fascinating. You’re more prolific when you’re sleepy? Could that have something to do with Derek’s hyper-think theory?

    Keith, I’ll admit I’ve had a couple of brilliant plot ideas UTI — once plotted a whole book in a bar with hubby, bartender and patrons helping, which was actually a hoot. Not an entirely unusable plot, just too big for now.

    Bryon, you get freaky on the Nyquil? You know they stopped putting psuedophedrine in it, and I didn’t realize that until I took some this last cold and it wired me up instead of making me sleepy. Dummies.

    Reply
  9. JT Ellison

    Kristy — I bet you’re damn charming when you’ve tipped some bubbly…

    Dee, I agree. Plus, I’m a two drinker anyway, so I’m done and ready for bed if I have any more, which makes it all a useless endeavor.

    Dusty, are you not in conference land???Maybe we should do a blog roll after a virtual cocktail party, see who makes the most sense…

    Reply
  10. Stephen Blackmoore

    Writing while drunk? Can’t do it. I can’t function in polite society much less at a keyboard. Good thing for me polite society doesn’t much like me, either.

    As to the dentist, wouldn’t a balloon and a tank be cheaper? Just sayin’.

    Reply
  11. billie

    I don’t tend to drink while writing, although if I’ve had something in the evening and then end up writing, I suppose that counts… 🙂

    One time I read a particularly intense scene aloud in a writing group and one of the pieces of feedback was that there was an incredible amount of alcohol being consumed by the characters and a pretty detailed cataloging of it by me, the writer.

    I guess in that case I was imbibing vicariously in order to get through the scene!

    billie

    Reply
  12. billie

    I don’t tend to drink while writing, although if I’ve had something in the evening and then end up writing, I suppose that counts… 🙂

    One time I read a particularly intense scene aloud in a writing group and one of the pieces of feedback was that there was an incredible amount of alcohol being consumed by the characters and a pretty detailed cataloging of it by me, the writer.

    I guess in that case I was imbibing vicariously in order to get through the scene!

    billie

    Reply
  13. JT Ellison

    Billie, I love it! Imbibing vicariously through your characters. I’m going to remember that.

    Stephen, you goose. Polite society looooves you.

    Lance, whatever works, right? Though I’;d be willing to be you’re being too hard on yourself!!!

    Reply
  14. louiseure

    JT, we missed you at LCC!

    As for driving the computer when drunk, the only time I do it I manage to create ghastly emails that I would like to snatch out of the ether before they become my legacy.

    And those brilliant ideas that I jot down in the middle of the night? WTF was I thinking? They make as much sense as a mad woman’s breakfast.

    Reply

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