No, I have not been drinking.
That said, I think I’ve figured out the reason why writers drink. But first, here are some examples of troubled writers:
Ernest Hemingway – Sadly, he committed suicide. It was something that seemed to haunt his family.
Sylvia Plath – Also committed suicide – Her poem Daddy might explain why she was depressed. Here’s an excerpt:
There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.
Edgar Allan Poe – One of my personal favourites. He had to go to England to get some respect as a writer. They didn’t appreciate him back home in the U.S.A. See, he was driven to madness by his fellow countrymen. Clearly not his fault. Although, he did marry his 13 year old cousin, which is weird at any time in history.
Virginia Woolf – Not sure what to say about her. She’s Virginia Woolf. And, she had a troubled upbringing. Sad.
Jack London – He may or may not have overdosed on morphine (Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, and rule it accidental.)
These writers suffered from depression, and are clearly not the best examples – BUT, here’s the thing…
For the short-ish list of troubled writers, how many more are there that don’t have any form of depression or mental illness?
Lots. That’s how many. Unfortunately, I don’t have the numbers for you. I’m a wordsmith, people, not an accountant!
And, now the moment you’ve been waiting for. Here is Ellie’s reasoning as to why writers drink:
Writing is hard!
After banging my head against the wall (not literally) every day, I feel like I need a drink. I feel like I deserve a drink. I think I have earned it!
You know, I don’t think that artists are any more troubled than the average person. Maybe we’re more sensitive to the aches and pains of life. I don’t know what it is.
The thing I admire about writers (and why I think it’s important to read literature from all periods of time and cultures) is that writers hold up a mirror to culture and society and say, “This is a problem.”
Writers are big on social justice issues, of calling out wrongs and injustices.
Writers go against the grain, the status-quo. If that doesn’t make a person need the occasional drink, well, I’m a bunch of radish…
By the way, Elizabeth Gilbert gave a great Ted Talk about this subject. I highly recommend it. And, she’s much more eloquent on the subject than my mad ramblings.
My sincere apologies if I depressed you. I’ll try and be a bit more lively next blog post.
Here’s some good news – Spring is coming!!!
Take your head out of the oven, Sylvia Plath…
Question: What character referred to him or herself as a bunch of radish? I love this character!!