Blogger: Michelle Ule
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
I grew up in a community of folks who knew how to party well on Saturday nights. Charming, funny, clever and lovely, they nearly all enjoyed a drink or two. And then they thought themselves funnier, more clever and devastatingly attractive. I learned early to distrust alcohol and the words of people even “slightly under the weather.”
Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hunter Thompson and Lillian Hellman all were famous for their “alternate reality” ingestion while creating literature. I’m sure we all know more authors who had a problem with drink and drugs. Did it help their creativity?
Hemingway notoriously said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Is it possible these talented writers needed the alcohol to get them past the personal horrors from which their writing came?
And is it only alcohol and drug abuse that’s the problem?
Kay Redfield Jamison detailed her life with manic-depression in her well-known book, An Unquiet Mind. I’ve never forgotten, however, how she described her reluctance to take lithium because while it moderated her “lows” it also took the edge off her manic “highs,” thus leaving her feeling less creative. (Nowadays she knows to take her medicine and feels she leads a more productive life.)
Hemingway and Fitzgerald succeeded in writing fine works of literature because they had an uncommonly devoted editor: Maxwell Perkins. Famous for his uncanny ability to find the glorious writing among the rough, Perkins nursed a generation of writers through their demons to produce quality work. Among other heroic activities, Perkins induced Thomas Wolfe to cut 90,000 words out of his first novel, Look Homeward, Angel.
Where does creativity come from? Does it need a chemical “start?” What types of non-addictive behavior have you observed or used to encourage your own creativity or writing life?