Writers and alcohol have a long intertwined history. Abuse of the demon drink seems to go hand-in-hand with the peculiar mix of self-loathing, egotism and imagination that drives many novelists.
Or does it? This selection of quotes from writers on drinking – from Mencken to Twain – makes clear how sensible a good many great writers were when it came to using drink rather than abusing it. Take this quote from King Whisky himself, E Hemingway:
“I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky? When you are cold and wet what else can warm you? Before an attack who can say anything that gives you the momentary well-being that rum does?… The only time it isn’t good for you is when you write or when you fight. You have to do that cold. But it always helps my shooting. Modern life, too, is often a mechanical oppression and liquor is the only mechanical relief.”
In other words: don’t drink and write.
Or in my case, today, and the reason for this post: don’t expect to get anything decent written when you’ve got a tasty hangover.