are all writers alcoholics?

Are all writers alcoholic, drug addict, medicated lunatics?

Let me present to you that yes, yes they are.

Last night, after midnight, I was reading the book Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott, in which she is brutally honest about her son’s first year of life. She also talks about her history with drinking and drugs, without any shame or sugar coating. She has a history, and she’s not afraid to tell it. I envy her for that.

It got me thinking about the books that I had read over the past few months, and the lives of their authors. Here are some brief descriptions of the messes that they called lives. I can say all of these things about them, because they are dead.

Ernest Hemingway — Lifelong alcoholic, committed suicide after years of deteriorating health.

Jack Kerouac — Where to begin? Just read On The Road for the list of drugs that this man took. He literally drank himself to his death at age 47.

F. Scott Fitzgerald — friends with Hemingway, an alcoholic from his college years on, died at 44 from a massive heart attack, likely brought on in part by his heavy drinking.

Okay, so those are just a few, and of course I don’t think all writers are alcoholic drug addicts or medicated lunatics, but I am beginning to think that they (or shall I say we?) may lean that way more often than others.

When I woke up a 6:00 this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep because I was thinking too much, I thought about why it is that writers (particularly the greatest) are likely to have such horrible lives.

I have written in a journal since I was in the ninth grade. I would spend hours just writing whatever came to my mind, thinking with my pen and pouring my feelings onto paper with feverish speed. It wasn’t even always deep, heavy stuff that I wrote. I was just thinking. I even made a lot of jokes in my journal, laughing to myself as I wrote them. (Side note: I have gone back to read my earliest journals, and sadly I still make the same jokes to myself that I did when I was fifteen).

There is something inside of writers that makes them feel like they have to write. Often it comes from troubled lives, perhaps troubled childhoods or some tragic experience in their past. But in my case, I think it comes from having so many thoughts inside of my head that I have to have somewhere for them to go. I remember wondering when I was younger whether I thought more than other people did, because it always seemed like it. I also remember thinking when I was really little that everyone around me, including my family, was in a big conspiracy to act like they were my friends and family, but really they were all fakers and when I was in my bedroom my parents were either turning into aliens or taking cigarette breaks in the kitchen until they had to start acting like my parents again. But that’s another story.

I think writers, more than anything else, just have a lot of thoughts. They have so many of them that they just need to get them out, and paper is a great place to put them. Psychiatrists are another great option, but they are much more expensive. And they talk back.

So how does this connect to alcohol, drugs, and large amounts of anxiety? Well, there are plenty of ways to take care of the thoughts that are constantly trying to take over our brains. Yes, writing is one of them, and it helps. But extreme drunkenness and drugs are other options, and they also help. And the anxiety, well that’s just what happens when we’ve exhausted all of our resources and the thoughts are allowed to take free reign in our minds, wreaking havoc on our nervous systems.

I think, therefore I write. And maybe, someday, all this writing will get some of these thoughts out of my head. I’m still waiting for that.

And speaking of, in case you were wondering, my word count is 46,000. Hoping to make it past 48,000 today, and wrap things up right on time, tomorrow. Wish me luck and lots of thoughts.


christmas time is here. and some other things about life.

It’s snowing outside my window right now, off and on, light flurries that are barely visible. I look past my Christmas tree (lights on) every once in a while to make sure it hasn’t turned into a blizzard. I wish it would, but I know it won’t. That’s okay though, flurries are enough for me, for now.

I’m sick. I’ve been getting sick since before Thanksgiving, and it has finally come on in full force. You don’t get paid when you are sick if you are a freelancer, did you know that? It’s unfortunate. I would love to say that despite this horrible cold I have arisen every morning at 7 am to start my workday, but it just hasn’t been that way. If I did that, I would never get well. So I sleep in as long as I can and try to do some work once I’m feeling up to it.

Last week was my first Thanksgiving away from home. Ever. It was also my first Thanksgiving with my new husband. I’m glad that the two firsts coincided. It was sad to be away from my family, but it was also fun to just be with my new little family of two. We also had two amazing dinners with wonderful new friends, and played a mad game of German Uno. Heard of it? It’s fun. Beware though, it can cause certain wives to get a little bit angry with certain husbands, if they lose and aren’t good at losing things and feel like their husband contributed to the loss. I won’t name names. (It was me.)

I have written 43,000 words of my novel this month. I am on track to hit 50,000 by Friday. I am in a bit of shock about all of it. I never ever ever in my life thought I could ever write a novel, let alone 50,000 words of one in a mere 30 days. I’m still pretty amazed at myself for doing it. To be honest, I didn’t think I was actually going to make it. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t.

I need you guys to make me keep writing though, because I still have a long way to go before I’m anywhere near finished with this thing. Even when I do make it to the end of the story, I’ve got a lot of re-writing and editing to do, and I really don’t want to just stop writing at the end of the month and go back to my old ways.

Next week is my birthday, and the following Monday is my one year wedding anniversary. I don’t know about y’all, but I honestly can’t believe I’ve been married for a year. It feels like we got married last week. We have pretty exciting plans for the weekend, so I’ll be sure to tell you all about it.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s Christmas? I seriously wish it were Christmas all the time. It is by far, above and beyond, no doubt about it, the most wonderful time of the year. Everything is better when it’s Christmastime.

It’s easy for me to forget who gave us this wonderful time, when I get wrapped up in decorations and Santa Clauses and cider and carols. The best part about Christmas is the One we are celebrating during this time. Without Jesus, none of this would mean anything, it would just be a bunch of presents and decorations and festive parties. Those are all fun, but I’d rather have Jesus than any of those things. Apart from Him I can do nothing.