My posts during April form part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. I will be writing to a theme: book genres, largely taken from the comprehensive Goodreads list.
To be honest, when I saw this as a category on Goodreads, I did actually laugh out loud! But, having just bought my dear friend a copy of "Tequila Mockingbird", I couldn't resist seeing what I could do with it.
And yes, there are a remarkble range of books in this category, some of the more magnificent names being: "Are you there Vodka? Its me, Chelsea!", "I hope they serve beer in Hell" and "Ho, ho, ho! 3 slightly dysfunctional Christmas stories". Hunter S Thompson's "The Rum Diary", most certainly qualifies, although pretty much anything he wrote would probably contribute to the subject quite splendidly! Britain's own bad boy - Kingsley Amis - weighs in with "Everyday Drinking" and a different take would be nicely provided by "The Drunken Botanist: the plants that create the world's great drinks".
Whilst drinking has played a part in many a novel I've read, I wondered if any had been about drinking. Clearly some have been written very specifically on the subject, so why was I surprised to find the list in this category contained virtually zero cross-over with the list of what I've read. So far, the only candidate is Fitzgerald's "Great Gatsby" - a tale where a lot of drinking takes place and of one of those infamously hedonistic times and places.
Perhaps my surprise is because writers - male ones in particular - are famed for being big boozers: Ernest Hemmingway, Hunter S Thompson, Raymond Chandler, Tennessee Williams, Edgar Allen Poe, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac, William Faulkner, Charles Bukowski, F Scott Fitzgerald, Dylan Thomas, James Joyce, Jay McInerney, David Foster Wallace ... the list is endless. It's long been regarded as a manly pursuit and is too often regarded as somewhat sad or seedy when engaged in by women.
With all these famous drinking authors, one could be forgiven for believing that alcohol somehow unlocks a certain access to creativity. So, can writers write whilst drinking, or drunk? Or is the drinking a separate issue? Truman Capote famously said : 'its impossible, writing requires too much concentration. But after a long bout of concentration, it can be helpful to have a drink and loosen one's mind a little bit'. I knew a recovering alcoholic who used it to quiet down his mind. Suffering from Aspergers, he found it difficult to concentrate with his mind running on up to a dozen trains of thought consecutively. It did quieten his mind, but - of course - concentration was still not possible.
As most of us know, it is possible to write drunk, but even a text message can be troublesome after too much has been partaken. James Baldwin, another infamous drinker admitted that: 'at the time I was high and writing, I knew that what I was putting down was my most brilliant work ever; in the morning, I reread my work and tore it to pieces, it was so awful'.
It is possible that these two famous authors are the exception, but it does seem to make sense that whilst authors do drink, that isn't what makes them writers. Nor does drinking turn on some recessive writing gene.
Are you are coffee or a tea drinker whilst writing? Or do you glug water to keep hydrated? What's your writing drink? And what's your mind lossener after writing?