writing under duress…

Ernest Hemingway did it. They say F. Scott Fitzgerald did it. Stephen King claims he was also guilty. All these great writers supposedly wrote while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. There is almost a cache of being the talented, yet tortured great artist. I’ve never been sure if the pain informed the art or if creating the art took so much out of these men that they turned to the solace of the bottle, be it a 1.75 liter or pill-size. But there is a connection between those who create and the influences they abuse in a form of self-destruction.

It always seemed kind of weak to me. But the past few days, I’ve gotten a taste of WUI, that’s Writing Under the Influence. Let me tell you – it’s hard!  Two days ago, I had some gum surgery, so I’m not exactly sick, but I’m laying low and I did want to try to get some work done. I’m currently under the influence of oxycodone, and after having discovered a new allergy to yet another class of antibiotics, Benadryl. It’s difficult enough trying to put together coherent thoughts in the best of circumstances, but under the influence of drugs and fueled by a mostly liquid diet, I’m struggling.

The first problem is the distractions. There’s pain, to start with. There’s hunger. There’s fatigue, and then, there’s a fog of ennui clouding over everything I think and feel.

On somebody’s blog I read yesterday, a writer referred to the “Fifty Shades of Grey” book as “Mommy porn.”  I’d never heard this term, but he put it in quotes, so I’m guessing he did not invent the phrase himself. What I’ve been experiencing is what I decided to call food porn. Food porn comes in the form of commercials of cheeseburgers literally dripping with juiciness – their big fluffy buns scattered with sesame seeds which envelope  a patty of perfectly medium rare beef, at least three-quarters of an inch thick, topped with sinfully melting cheddar. The hamburger doesn’t get placed on the plate – it bounces onto the plate. The top part of the bun opens just enough to give the viewer a hint of the crispy dill slices, ruby red tomato slabs and lettuce so perky it crunches as the actor takes a voluptuous bite out of this food masterpiece. Okay, you can admit it, you want, you really want a cheeseburger right now, don’t you?

I literally moaned when I went into our pantry this afternoon to retrieve a new liter of Gatorade, when directly in front of me, was a huge bag of popcorn. I don’t just like popcorn. I adore popcorn. It’s only been a few days, but I miss it’s salty, slightly buttery crunchiness. I miss the fact that it’s perfectly acceptable to sit down on the sofa with a bowl the size of a large family’s serving vessel, overflowing with those wonderful clouds of puffed corn, and eat the whole thing yourself.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the milkshakes friends have brought. I’ve eaten avocado soup and apple/peach soup. I’ve got enough ice cream, yogurt and fruit in my fridge to open my own smoothie counter. One friend even brought over some lobster bisque today. I’ve got great friends, don’t I? But, I’m pretty hungry.

It will likely be more than a week or so before I can even entertain the idea of something I have to actually chew, and even longer before I’m allowed to eat something that crunches as I bite into it. But until then, I’ve got commercials and color photos of staged platings  on other people’s foodie blogs to lust over.

My husband just came home and is sitting not ten feet away from me – eating right out of that aforementioned bag of popcorn as I write this. That’s got to constitute cruel and unusual punishment – don’t you think?

But I’ve gotten a taste of attempting to perform my craft while on drugs. Those tortured, haunted geniuses who write that way can have it. I’m looking forward to thinking clearly and forming sentences more easily. I’ve never been a fan of being out-of-control, and this week hasn’t changed that.


5 comments on “writing under duress…

  1. Some of our best work comes from when we are under duress.

  2. WriterLinda
    17 April 2013 at 12:27 am Reply
    You are hilarious, Linda! And by now, April 16, you should be over the worst of it all.
    Linda G from the Ignatian blog.

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