–Calypso Grier, Writer/Editor for Wrought Iron Reads
Hello, All! It’s your girl, Calypso Grier, and I write this from my patio as I indulge in a vice or two of my own–coffee and sunbathing! I read something the other day that made me think about the link between writers and bad habits.
Business Insider put up an article in August called 22 Lessons from Stephen King on How to be a Great Writer. One key piece of advice he put out there was “you don’t need drugs [and alcohol] to be a good writer.”
“The idea that the creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are entwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of our time,” says King. “Any claims that the drugs and alcohol are necessary to dull a finer sensibility are just the usual self-serving bullshit.”
Of course, this brought to mind some southern authors who veritably lived on liquid courage. Take William Sidney Porter, better known as the prolific short story writer, O. Henry, a Greensville, North Carolina native who wrote 400 short stories. He died a destitute alcoholic. Mississippian Tennessee Williams, New Orleans native Truman Capote and Georgia beauty, Carson McCullers also drank from the ladle of the Devil’s Water.
Good advice aside, writers and bad habits go together like rum and coke. Probably for good reason. Substance abuse is a well-known symptom of mental illness, and creatives are 25% more likely to carry genes that raise the risk of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia , which kind of explains why writers also tend to be emotionally labile, narcissistic and out of touch with reality.
D’ah, well! Long as the drunken, disorderly conduct leads to a rousing story!
In my opinion, one of the main reasons the stereotypical liquor-laden writer sticks is because of the grain of truth at the bottom of the barrel. Creatives think differently. Thinking differently can lead to a whole heap of troubles.
I’m sure King realizes this, just as much as the next writer, but I’m equally positive his advice is a ray of hope in the dark exile of choosing to closet oneself away with our demons and inner most fears. To write is to confront, slay and lay bare our battle scars. To do so, takes both courage and vulnerability.
So, what’s the take-away? You don’t have to hold onto a bad habit (or develop one) to be a writer, but you might have some bad habits (or develop some) as a writer—in which case, push away from the keyboard and take care of the life you have instead of the ones you write about.
In the meantime, here are some virgin tonics sure to give you a Southern Zing without the headache in the morning! (Click the pictures to go to the recipes.)
Instead of a Long Island Ice Tea, try this Southern Sweet Treat from Rachel Ray:
The Pussyfoot by Made Man will give you all the lovin’ of a Ramos Fizz without the alcohol:
As I get down to the dregs of coffee in the pot, I contemplate whether I should make another or hold off on the caffeine. This weekend promises to be a busy one…better make another pot. Ta-ta now, y’all!
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