Yesterday was a writing day. But of course I had to bribe myself to do that thing that I’m always lamenting not having enough time to do. I don’t think this is just because I’m whiny. It’s a lot of fucking work. Just ask Teri.

At an appropriate o’clock of the late afternoon/early evening, I told myself that if I finished one last spurt of writing that I could have a bourbon. I’m still not sure whether this is a good way to get myself writing or a good way to become an alcoholic.

When I was younger I used to wonder how writers managed to be drunks or write while drunk. I had a couple beers and just wanted to go to sleep. Now that I’m older and writing a memoir I understand why writers might drink after writing. That’s a lot of shit to bring to the surface, to have back in my mind and my life. It makes me cranky, angry, and prone to sadness.

And after I write, after my work day is done, I am generally expected to interact with the human beings in my life in a reasonable way. DP is tired of watching me cry over movies or go to bed at nine o’clock with a mystery novel. One of these days my friends are going to stop calling.

And so I have a drink to distance myself just a bit from my work, to quiet the raging, overtired ADD brain, to be less irritable. And it works. But what if I have two or three? Where is the line?

How do you get by?



18 responses to “Rewards

  1. I’ve never been very good with lines. I have rolled in the gutter, however, so I know where my boundaries lie. Doesn’t mean I always respect them. It just means I forgive myself and carry on.

  2. I set my alarm for 4:30 in the morning, every morning. This is when my brain functions best, god knows why. I get by because it’s too early at that point to get into any really self-destructive behaviors.

  3. My days unfold pretty much the same. Up at 4:30 or 5:00 with coffee and email and WWF (right Indy?!). Walk dogs, run a few errands or do household “stuff,” then write. Writing and work related to writing (reading, thinking, daydreaming, edited, banging head against wall, etc…) until about 3:00. Walk the dogs and then either jog a little or go to Pilates. About 5:00 I have my (almost daily) glass of wine. Usually it’s one glass while I made dinner and that’s it. Every now and then it’s 3 glasses, but then all I do is fall into bed and feel bad the next morning and that’s too big a drag at this age.

    The writing has gotten a little easier, emotionally. The first draft was painful, the second draft even more painful and though I don’t remember specifically, I’m guessing I drank more then. Now that I’m on the umpteenth revision/rewrite, I feel more distance, more forgiveness (for myself and my “characters”), and working on the memoir feels more like putting together a really complex puzzle or solving an impossible math equation.

    On drinking …. when I went to see Tom Perrotta speak last year, a young (25-ish?) man asked him about writers and drinking/drugs and Tom’s answer was very simple, that of all the writers out there, very few went down this road. Sure, we hear about the famous ones (falling-down, famous drunks are always newsworthy) but he believes more in the tedium of the job. That a clean, boring, routine writer wins in the end.

    • I agree about the clean, boring routine. I’ve never been much on the romanticization of drinking, drugging, and writing, but I’m thinking about the more applied viewpoints, if that makes sense.

      I never get tired of hearing about process. Thank you.

      • And I never get tired of that 5 pm glass of wine! 🙂

        I love the Joan Didion routine, where she wrote all day, broke at 4:00 for a strong drink, then sat back down to read over what she’d written with a more “relaxed” mind. Love that.

  4. Single track mountain bike, of course. Absolute best way in the world to trash yourself. And, you’ve got to think so hard about your technique (to avoid breaking your nose, thumb, clavicle or worse) that you MUST give up your previous train of thought. Try it!

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