A Writer And Her Vices

I spent my weekend watching awesome movies and one of the movies I watched was Reaching for the Moon. It was a beautiful movie but the poet; Elizabeth Bishop (played by Miranda Otto) has a drinking problem. I see a lot of that in movies and it really got me wondering what is it about writers (or creative types in general) that lends itself to substance abuse. This article from The Guardian talks about how prevalent this is and us creative types seem to really have issues with trying to drown our demons.

So, what is it about the creative process that drives us to drugs and alcohol? Personally, I don’t have issues with drinking (I’ve often said I’m too cheap to be an alcoholic or drug addict… That shit COSTS!) but man, the creative juices flow easier when the wine flows with it. Is there so much going on in our heads that to calm it down, we use (or abuse) drugs or alcohol? Are there so many people, places, and plot lines all slamming against the day to day bullshit we have to slog through to keep the lights on and the roof patched that to just free the muse and get him/her to focus, you have to ply inspiration with a shot of bourbon? Is non-creative life so abysmal to us that a line of cocaine is the only way to push it completely out of the way to let us work?

Its an odd thing to afflict so many of us; and the best of us at that. What is haunting us? What’s haunting you?

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Brief Writing Update!

I will be honest, I didn’t do much writing during last week. Not only is it hard to write with my kiddo underfoot, I didn’t really want to. We had drawing time together but this was a rare chance to have uninhibited time with her and I took it. But the weekend! Ahh, the weekend.

I’d expected to babysit my nieces but it fell through and kiddo was at her dad’s. I had a free Saturday night… FREE!!!

Me being me, I was a selfish bitch and used my Saturday night to do nothing but write, write, take a nice bath, dye my hair, then write some more. And, holy gods, was it ever worth it! I was so jazzed, I continued into Sunday afternoon. I did another chapter of Lost Brother and did some amazing work with Old Soldier. What I really should have done was some typing but once I had that pen in my hand, I was FLYIN! And it was pure inspiration, not the determined scribbles of someone who refuses to let her page goal go unfulfilled. Those of you out there who create will get the difference. 😉

I love that feeling and I hope to keep it up. 🙂 Eventually, I will have to nut up and do some typing. I don’t want to end up with the daunting task of typing hundreds of pages rather than just 20 or so (and Old Soldier has been a rare, direct-to-computer project). But as long as my muse has this love affair with pen and paper, I’m going to write. And it feels GREAT!

Admiration: Learning from the masters.

Most of the time, I think I should be spending my time writing rather than reading about writing. Wouldn’t my time be better spent honing my craft than reading the words of someone who’s already done it? In this case it’s a good thing I ignored my own advice because I would have been denied the mental TNT that is Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury.

I plan to buy a copy of my own to deface with a highlighter, but wow… I was alternately cowed and inspired. While I don’t care much for word association, what I took away from this book is:

1: I am not alone in my fierce need to write. It’s write or die a miserable, uncreative death choking on the words which should have been put to paper.

and 2: I will never, EVER be anywhere as good as Bradbury; who wrote most of these inspiring essays before I was even born. 0.0

After giving it a great deal of thought, I’ve decided that in all honesty, I shouldn’t try to be like Bradbury. I shouldn’t try to be like anyone and in doing so, I would have missed the entire point of Bradbury’s book.

Bradbury went into great detail about how, when he was young, his "friends" would try and talk him out of his favorite comics and I can recall getting the same treatment. Especially since I was a girl. "Girls are not supposed to read X-Men." "Comics are for boys. Here, take this Barbie instead."

You know what I did with those Barbies? I played X-Men with them. Endless visits to the Hellfire Club got repetitive (what else was I supposed to do with all those gowns!?) and Cyclops was now a Black woman (not many "Ken" dolls) but I didn’t care. I LOVED it. I loved comics, I loved fantasy, I thought the Crypt Keeper was a genius, and that the Twilight Zone was a temple in which Rod Sterling should be worshiped. As a teenager, Lady Death and Evil Ernie taught me that you can do any damn thing you want when you write and draw and to tell those girls who called you a lesbian for drawing women in superhero uniforms to fucking suck it. Yes, that really happened. The lesbian part, not the actual telling them to suck it. I just looked at them like they were morons and went on with my life.

What does all that senseless rambling mean? I don’t need to try and be like Bradbury. I already am by virtue of being myself and having no fear. You can’t write if you have fear. Am I scared that someone will come up to me and say my book sucked so hard, they wanted to pour bleach in their eyes? Sure. But in that moment when you put pen to paper and you are at the mercy of characters, pouring your soul out on to the page, you are making magic. Let it take you.