Working on this month’s edition of City Arts, our drinking issue, I was reminded of a night long ago that I spent with a bottle of rum, a laptop and a bad idea.
Staring down an upcoming deadline for a piece of flash fiction, I spent that night writing about the secret love between a chronically self-abusing teenage boy and a bulimic teenage girl. Awkward, I know. Since the story was for an introductory fiction class, I was naturally aiming for some sort of social commentary. And being an incredibly clumsy fiction writer who was only intimately familiar with one of my characters – and who had just been introduced to the works of some inspiring drunken beat writers – I thought that introducing the bottle to my work routine would enliven my depiction of the less familiar of my characters. It did not. Instead it turned my story into something you might find in Todd Solondz’s wastebasket.
Just one sentence from that work would make my failure clear. But though I know exactly where the manuscript is stored, and though this episode occurred almost fifteen years ago now, I will not share it, for the same reason that I have never again written under the influence. It just isn’t me. I will drink to celebrate, certainly. I’ll drink to procrastinate, even. But drink in order to create? Never again.
While writing in the grip of booze isn’t very fruitful, writing about booze is just good, clean fun. Right now, moreover, in the latter half of winter, it’s especially appropriate. That is why we devoted this month’s City Arts to the stuff.
Enjoy the issue.