Does alcohol make you a better writer? I decided to test the idea and see if whisky boosted my skills
Let us be honest. Being a writer is tough. It requires a great amount of discipline, a great understanding of language, and a serious amount of stamina. Additionally, it demands focus, reflective capacity, and mental clarity.
We all know there is only one thing that can boost all these qualities at once: alcohol. That sweet friend who makes us more and more awesome the better we get to know him. A guy who makes us sure of ourselves, helps us communicate with greater confidence and see the world more clearly. Until he suddenly retreats and makes us puke all over ourselves, leaving us in the ditch with a feeling of embarrassment. But is that not what being a writer is all about?
Writers share another secret: We like to reward ourselves when we do great. And what defines greatness? To me, it emerges after crafting a new sentence or altering a comma. I am usually damned exhausted after that and need moral support. Again, the best gift for myself, the gift that makes me concentrate better, become a better boyfriend, and stronger too: alcohol.
There was no way out of it. I decided this December to award myself with whisky (as in whisky stamped with an original Scottish “y”). I love a good whisky, but I love two good whiskies better. As the count increases, my joy and writing improve vastly. At least that is the theory. Up until this December, it has merely been a theory, I have to admit that. But initially, all the crap above does sound promising.
There Are Good Whiskies And Lovely Whiskies
It stopped being a theory a couple of days ago, though. My good friend Chris discovered that someone had made a whisky Advent calendar with samples of all the whisky genres you could imagine: good whisky, nice whisky, friendly whisky, enjoyable whisky, lovely whisky, and nice whisky… or did I say that already?
For once, I had something to look forward to in December, aside from constipation and drunk dads sending rockets through my window on New Year’s Eve.
I love the idea of an Advent calendar where you get a present each day for almost a month. A little reward for being such a patient and good boy. I was waiting excitedly for the shop to send me a new package each day (I guess I would get two on Saturdays because the mailman is too lazy to bring out packages on Sundays).
However, I was astonished when the first delivery arrived. The package was substantial, containing 24 small bottles. What a funny idea to have me taste different samples already on the first day of December. This was surely promising, but also quite a load of alcohol. I figured around 48 cl. In total (16.23 oz.). This promised to be quite a night.
How I Destroyed My Computer While Untangling the Universe
It was late evening and my girlfriend had gone to sleep. I had put all of the sample bottles on the table and was getting ready to unleash the holy writer within me. It had been a rough year and finally, I would get a much-needed boost.
After the first whisky, I felt great. It carried a beautiful dark color, a walnut flavor, was sweet to the tongue, and warmed my body. I started writing and found myself feeling very concentrated.
The second one was just as good. It was a Glen Spey 17 with a honey flavor that made me forget all my worries. I actually finished the sentence I had started after the first whisky. Man, this was going well. I could get most of the paragraph done if this continued.
After the next five, I kept getting more awesome. The Bruichladdich 20 even made me forget about writing for a while and just enjoy life. The sweet woody taste and the stronger 52.2 % made me realize that writing is not about writing at all. It is not about retreating to some fantasy kingdom either. It is about drinking.
So far so good, but let me tell you, the next seven were tougher. It became harder to read the labels on the bottles and I destroyed the keyboard on my laptop with a Hazelburn 8. I think it was a Hazelburn 8. But heck, the text on the screen was pure crap anyway. I suddenly realized that being a writer was not for me at all. Why did I keep lying to myself? Writing was just my attempt to escape that unfair planet that broke the catalytic converter on my Toyota Aygo. But if people wanted me to be unhappy, then FINE. Fuck them!
The next four whiskies were a bit more positive. I regretted shouting at myself and waking up the neighbors. I even apologized to the old handicapped woman downstairs for trying to dig out the catalytic converter on her mobility scooter. Like I knew what a catalytic converter was anyway. Perhaps I was not a bad writer after all. I mean, we all have ups and downs. A text is not a static thing. I could change it. Make it better. I deleted everything I had written, all the hard work, the whole goddamn sentence, and started over. But there was a problem. I was not seeing very well anymore The letters were jumping around on the screen and half of the keys were not working because of the Hazelburn 8. It was actually quite funny. I started tap-dancing the letters and made a pretty melody. Soon I had written half a page and it was awesome.
The next three bottles were hazy. I did not care about the subtleties of tasting anymore. The whiskies were all the same. I realized through my daze that half the page I had written was pure nonsense. Like “Fuck this… bfjeid, fkdkk.” But I was feeling too bad to change it. I figured there would be an audience for that crap somewhere. I was a poet now. It took me 21 whiskies to realize my true objective. Who wants to write long texts? Only idiots.
The final three…. Well, I hardly remember them. I drank them in the bedroom while trying to explain the universe to my sleeping girlfriend. Wild stuff like: if Earth were a sand grain on a beach, then the entire universe would be like really, really many sand grains. Stuff like space being just like air, except that it is always black, whereas air is white during the day and black during the night.
Then I passed out.
Waking up to Chaos
The next day was demanding. I was hungover like hell. I puked all over my first draft and pooped on the sofa. There was a side-effect to being awesome. It had been a decent night, but man, there had been casualties. My laptop for instance. And half my book. It seemed that I had started deleting documents from Dropbox, too. The living room was full of broken glass and my girlfriend said she needed to go for a walk. “WITHOUT YOU, IDIOT,” she exclaimed, though I really needed fresh air.
The worst part was obvious. I knew this was going to be one heck of a December. This hangover was only after opening the first whisky door. Some calendar I had ordered. I waited anxiously for the second delivery. The December 2 package with another 24 small bottles.