When The Waterclock Wars consisted of little more than an outline, a loose cast of characters, and scattered, half-baked ideas compiled into essays, I had a routine. I would race home after work, boot up my laptop, and pour a mixture I called ‘my poison’ into the largest cup I could find. It consisted of liquor from the bar none of my roommates wanted—usually leftover from the last house party—and bonus if I could find a twisty straw. If it was nice out, I would take my poison and my laptop and my dog to the backyard, set up at a table with a can of bug spray, and set to writing. By the end of the first round of poison, I was on a roll.
Karaoke night was every Wednesday. I was the girl bent over my marble notebook, sketching concept art or scribbling notes in between sets. By the third or fourth red headed slut, and certainly by the weekly butchering of All That Jazz, I had something penned I was more or less proud of.
Much later—years later—when I began treating the novel as an investment, rather than a convenient hobby behind which I could hide my painfully awkward social ineptitude, I got classy. Pinky raised, curled on my red sofa, sequestered in the country away from the rush and noise of cities or karaoke, I enjoyed a new poison. Bota Box chardonnay.
And by the third one, magic.
My friends would joke at me, “write drunk, edit sober.” Apparently, it is a saying misattributed to Hemingway.
As the new year approached, I wondered if I could write sober.
I was running out of vices to drop. Quit smoking two years ago, lost sixty pounds by changing my lifestyle, cut out toxic people and environments, changed my outlook on life and the future and my writing… Still, there’s always something more I can do. Something else I could improve. Some crutch I could survive without.
It was obvious, although I was reluctant. I decided to dry out for January.
Turns out, I can write sober—even with an unopened bottle of Writer’s Tears whiskey sitting visible on my kitchen counter, a bottle of joie in the cabinet. I can also edit sober and blog sober. I can celebrate birthdays and go on dates and spend a night out in the city sober. I can attend open bar events, drink unsweet tea, dance, and go home sober.
My short-lived resolution is satisfied.
Will I cut out alcohol forever? Mmmmm, probably no. Or yet.
But it helps, knowing.