Last night I drank to get drunk. Well, to be fair, I drank to get to drunk to write, but the dangers of such an undertaking are nonetheless the same. When drinking becomes not just the activity but also the goal—more of a purpose than a pastime—the thin line between recreation and degradation becomes even harder to distinguish. Is this not the first step on the way to becoming an alcoholic? (And that is certainly no 12-step process.) My intentions were pure! cries my defensive self-conscious. I did it for the glory of art; I sacrificed my sobriety upon the altar of writing, threw my inhibitions to the wind and gave prayer to the gods of inspiration to bring me a muse. Inspired by Hemingway, I sought originality in the darkness of my subconscious, hoping to find new forms of creativity in the part of my mind that was rarely shown to the world. Of consequences, I thought nothing; only the glorious possibilities of uninhibited artistry did control and conquer my febrile mind, weakened as it was by weeks of writer’s block in the worst way. Retrospectively, it is clear that I was clutching at wild possibilities with little prospect, second-rate delusions that masqueraded as inspiration and were more likely to lead to ruin than riches. I answered any doubts I had with the juvenile challenge: why not? Why the hell not?
Ahh, why not: the infamously innocuous inquiry that has led to more iniquity in the history of human mistakes than any other phrase. Waving this flag so oft carried by the army of angsty adolescents, I bravely charged into a night of drunkenness with only vague precepts of purpose and no scheme for success.
Here is what resulted:
“Write drunk, edit sober said Hemingway. Well I’m drunk at the keyboard right now, so halfway there, eh Ernie? So…what now? I know when I’m high I’m constantly bombarded with inspiration—the only problem is making my fingers work fast enough to keep up with the stream of ideas—and even when I’m sober (God forbid) I am able to wrack my brain for some topic worth elaborating. Right now, though, all I’ve got is this cyclical thought of self awareness and the tautological implications it implies. Even that sentence didn’t make sense! I think maybe the most important part of Hemingway’s phrase is the second half: to edit sober. Editing requires a clean, calm mind, free of bias and open to critique. A drunken mind may make for an imaginative creator, but my normal mind is just as creative and far more coherent. Maybe Hemingway was just an uninspired alcoholic searching for a justification for his addiction. Yeah, fuck Hemingway. Sorry, Ernie, that’s just the drunk me talking; I’m sure I’ll edit it out tomorrow when I’m sober.”
So…well…you can see that I never did get around to editing that. I decided to keep it in its original entirety as testament to the undertaking of drunk written creation. I admire writers that are able to write well (and not get dizzy after only one paragraph) while under the influence, but amateur alcohol-imbiber that I am, that is not within my power. So I guess I will work on getting better at editing sober.