On the turps again

Every now and then I worry that I drink too much, and stay completely sober for a month or so to reassure myself that I’m not an alcoholic.

As such, I stayed dry for the month of October-just-passed, breaking the fast last night when we went to the pub with the Irish poet who’s been staying with us for the past five weeks and has now gone back to Scotland. I figured that was a special occasion worth celebrating, so we had beers and it was good. So very, very good.

More pertinently to this blog, though, is that I didn’t get a whole lot of writing done in October. I tinkered with Raven’s Blood without getting much accomplished, and wrote some blog posts that were probably much too long, and that’s about it. And look, I’m not saying that there’s 100% correlation/causation between me being sober and me not writing, but there’s definitely a link to some degree. Having a drink after work, or at the end of the day, lets me unwind a bit and unpack my creativity from the mental box I keep it in for safety when it’s not being used. Too many drinks and I just slap the keyboard with my forehead, true, but there’s a brief and glorious window in which the words leap from my fingers and the liquor leaps for my tonsils like an excited cheerleader on crystal meth. And without that creative impetus – I like to call it ‘word fuel’, because ‘feeding my addiction’ sounds so clinical – I don’t tend to get into the writing mindset as often or as easily.

So that’s why I’m going to be drunk 24/7 from now on. It’s not for my sake. It’s for my art. It’s for YOU.


Now, let’s go to the more interesting question, in which I ask you writers of all stripes: what’s your drink?

I am a beer man, and have been for a very long time. I love ales, especially steam ales and pale ales (but not India pale ales, which are too hoppy), and come winter I gravitate towards stouts. I know just enough about beer to know the difference between most types and to nod smugly and stroke my goatee while looking at the labels on various local microbrews and say hmm, hmm before wimping out and buying a sixpack of Mountain Goat.

I am also a bourbon man, and again I know just enough that I love the good brands like Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey Rare Breed and (on very rare and glorious occasions) Booker’s, but am still perfectly happy with a bottle of Jim Beam and some Coke for mixing. And now that I grow old, I have started to drink Scotch and whisky (and indeed whiskey) like a gentleman, but I know sweet Fanny Adams about it and usually I just buy the el cheapo shit and mix it with ginger ale.

I also make a decent mojito.

How about you? Beer? Red wine? Gin and tonic? Hot chocolate? Essence of toenail? The brown acid? What gets you relaxed and in the creative zone so that your genius can flow unto the page like liquid down your throat?

2 replies on “On the turps again”

When I’m writing it’s usually on tea, coffee or soft drinks. It’s never even occurred to me to try writing while drinking because I start to fall asleep on booze if I’m not moving around.

That said, a quick jolt of G&T or a smooth glass of a lightish red like a pinot noir or a GSM would probably be my tipple of choice. Or a beer, because that would be easiest.

Wait… Some people write without booze? Really?

I’m all about the equal opportunity drinking, so I don’t like to play favourites too much. But I am rather partial to a good pale ale (but not IPA!) as well. When it’s realy hot, I prefer a nice cold Corona with lime. Or a Vodka, lime and lemonade for something sweeter. (Although that’s better for writing action scenes.)

When it’s cold, I’m partial to a bit of Baileys and ice. Or a bit of port or dessert wine.

And if there’s nothing else in the house, I’ll drink a sweet white wine — Moscato is like drinking lolly water and an unwooded Chardonnay does down nicely. Or, you know, pretty much anything else.

…but I’m not an alcoholic or anything!

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