Note from DPW: This is a work for entertainment purposes only. We here at Drunken Pen Writing are not condoning nor encouraging any persons to pursue a life of addiction to substances. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, and are in need of help, please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-4357, day or night, to be put in touch with a professional who can help you along your journey to wellness.
Hemingway and his booze. Voltaire and his coffee. Mark Twain and his cigars. Hunter S. Thompson and his… well, everything.
The image of a writer hooked to some mind altering substance while bent over their paper/typewriter/computer, sweating and staring down their latest work with bloodshot eyes is an easily recognized trope. But why?
Well, I’d venture to say it’s kinda cool. It has all the swag of a James Dean “devil may care” rebellion, kinda like the Beat Generation of poets flipping the bird to established convention; while also appealing to the whole tortured artist “the world doesn’t understand me or my genius, but my soul needs release regardless” sort of thing that Sylvia Plath had mastered. I’d even go a step further and say that images of writers sniffing lines of coke (thus was Cujo and It created), downing fifths of cheap whiskey (Thomas Wolfe was a fiend), or pumping heroine into their arms to a near overdose (William S. Burroughs seemed intent on “first hand knowledge” for his writing) seems to offer a modicum of hope to the souls of fledgling writers.
It says two things to us: “Hey, if this boozed up, tweaking, belligerent dude can do it, well then why can’t I?”; or, “Well, at least if my writing sucks, I can down some booze and turn into the latest incarnation of the Bard.” (This last sentiment is entirely false).
All of the writers above were titans. They were at the top of their game and putting out ridiculously world changing prose with insights into universal topics that made the arrogant think tanks of the day question everything their doctoral degrees were based upon. And most of them seemed to have an addiction of some sort. A few fought off their addictions and have gone on to lead cleaner healthier lives, while others succumbed to their diseases.
But what are addictions, and are they really that bad?
Those life altering, potentially deadly destroyers of normality and independence, that drastically morph the interactions one experiences with loved ones; and stand to capsize any attempt to better oneself. In short, horrible, horrible things.
And my… aren’t they lovely?
Not to say that all addictions—all vices—are wondrous. I’ve yet to see any meth heads that are making good life choices, or folks with egregious amounts of gambling debt who go through life with all of their fingers still attached to their person.
No, there are certainly a great number of addictions that serve only the Devil’s whims.
There are others—other addictions hidden throughout our lives—that we, the everyday writer, indulge in happily, day in and day out. Most wouldn’t call them addictions, much less ever admit that maybe partaking in these activities might be rolling over into “ridiculous” levels. But make no mistake. These addictions are as real as the hangover that every alcoholic is sure will kill them.
The only difference is, these are smarter, cleverer, well disguised addictions; propensities and dependencies that control the very fabric of our being, and they won’t kill us. They are behaviors and choices that we ensure will be encouraged by the vast crowd of enablers that we surround ourselves with; and we have absolutely no intention of trying to quit. And why should we?
There’s no use in trying to deny it: you—the one reading this article in search of some sort of silent affirmation—are an addict. Hopelessly, and without redemption, forever and ever. But take heart! These are good addictions for writers to have. Don’t be downtrodden; be emboldened! Take pride in your addiction!
And so, without further ado, here is the list of 5 Little Vices That Keep Writers Alive.