The Pull of Booze

thierry ehrmann/flickr
thierry ehrmann/flickr — Sometimes, when I read enough of Hunter S. Thompson’s writing, I almost get it into my head that if I went to a bar and got a drink I would suddenly become a genius.

Do you ever get that feeling, like something is trying to pull you outside and into a pub or bar somewhere? What is that?

I’m feeling it now, but I don’t know why I’m feeling it. It’s as though, if I were to walk out of my house now and head to the closest pub, buy a drink and sit down, that that would be my Nirvana for the night.

Maybe films are responsible, those American films where bars are inherrently cool, where cool people go and where things happen.

Maybe it’s the part of the mind that, subconsciously, always seeks company. Bars are public, though I’d be interested to see whether a stranger would want to talk to me.

It could be booze: the drug of choice for the Anglosphere? Booze at home, while not automatically invalid, can be a little like religion outside church. Booze is happier in its natural habitat.

A realisation

When I was younger and foolish I went to see The Rum Diary (with Jonny Depp, based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel), it’s a fine film, full of energy, even if the plot is lacking.

I left the cinema with the will to write, to create. I charged out and went straight to the shop and, following the example set in the film, bought a bottle of vodka.

I got home, sat at my desk, and poured myself a drink. I opened my laptop and a fresh document. My body buzzed with the creative impulse, like how a smoker will describe the feeling of their first cigarette.

My fingers quivered above the keyboard; and – nothing.

At that moment, I learned that wanting to do something and drinking while you try won’t get you what you want. This may seem like an obvious point, but it wasn’t apparent to me.

My Advice

Carry on reading, if you think I’m qualified to advise you. I say that, in any creative endeavour, the unifying quality that unites all great works, is graft on the part of their maker.

This is to say that inspiration may gift you an idea, and drinking may get you in the mood for expression, but graft, repetitious, awkward and painful, is what will allow you to seize that idea, almost too hot to touch, and force it to conform to your will, making it worthy of publication without apology.

Alcohol is just a molecule, I don’t know whether it could be said to hinder you, but it certainly can’t help you. By the standard definition of ‘help’, that is.

I guess the feeling, like a vortex is pulling me out of the house and into the street, is a version of what I felt back then. I might go out, just to see what’s at the bottom of that spiral.


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