"Write drunk; edit sober." -Hemingway
When I first came across this quote I got really excited - I've been looking for something writing related for a new tattoo and nothing was quite fitting the idea of what I wanted . . . until I saw this, that is.
Write drunk; edit sober - it is quite a noble concept, for me. I am a firm believer in the idea of one's drunk words being their sober thoughts. Anyone who knows me well, and has been lucky enough to be a witness to the shenanigans alcohol provides for me, will tell you that I am a much, much, much more forward version of myself in every aspect. I loosely hand out my number, I dance without inhibition, I've confessed secret, ridiculous crushes, and we are not going to even get into what the drunk texting may or may not have looked like on those weekends where I should've said no to just one more shot of tequila. But isn't that somewhat refreshing every once and a while? Anyone with me out there? Shouldn't everyone get to go out on a weekend with their friends and just be? No concern of how I may or may not look, no concern of who may or may not see me dancing in this way, no concern, period, other than to have a good time.
I've thought about this quote, and thought about this quote, and thought about this quote some more; I've considered the idea that this quote is simply about alcohol consumption - that, perhaps, Hemingway created his brilliance in the haze of an amber colored drink, but this just doesn't sit well with me. Perhaps he did - I guess it's logical that he very well may have written while totally shit-faced for most of his career, but is that what this is really about?
As someone who has a degree in writing, and most recently, has become a published writer through a local newspaper, I find myself at odds with the inner voice that just. won't. go. away. She's always telling me I don't know what I'm doing - even though I've a degree and portfolio to demonstrate otherwise; she's always telling me I'll never succeed in this field - even though I've a paper sitting on my kitchen table this minute with MY name and work on the front page; she's always just yammering - on, and on, and on about how I think I may know what I'm doing, but, really, bitch? Do you really know what you're doing? And so, thanks to this little voice that incessantly spoon feeds self-doubt straight to my heart, I spend every second I am before a blank notebook page or before this computer screen questioning everything I'm pumping out - does that make sense? Will I offend someone? Is anyone going to even frigging read this?! And then I come back to Hemingway's words, I come back to the idea that this could just be a quote from a drunk man about drunk writing that happened to make him a legend - and then I fluff up my shoulders, I bitch slap that little voice in my head, and I say no!
Hemingway may have, in part, meant his words to be a token of advice for entire generations of writers to come, but that isn't everything I take away from them.
If I can take a couple of shots and start to be forthright with my feelings then perhaps I can start to become forthright with the deepest seeds of what my writing needs to put on the page.
I sit with my pencil, or with my fingers hovering over keyboard keys, and I think compulsively about what I'm about to put out in the universe before I do it and, more often than not, I end up not putting it out there for fear of what it may reveal about me, what it may say about my upbringing, how it could affect the people that read it. But, what if I wrote "drunk?" Not throwing back drinks drunk, but what if I just did what was on my heart? What if I just laid it all out on the page to just lay it out and then go back and edit? Why am I editing my thoughts and actions before they even become thoughts and actions?
Writing drunk isn't just writing - it's living. I'm not talking alcoholism, here, I'm talking about living the life that makes you feel best, saying what your heart needs to say, and just being what you need to be. This is your life, this is my life - and it's our only one.
So I'll get this tattooed on my body - to remind myself of the kind of writer I wish to be, to remind myself that writing, and living "drunk" isn't as scary or harmful as I once thought it was, to remind myself that this life isn't going to wait for me to step up and start living it.
Cheers to that . . .