Muse in a glass
My muse comes to me in liquid form, in a tall glass with lots of ice. I’m talking about iced tea, of course, and not that foul sweetened iced tea either, but the honest, straightforward kind where you can taste the flavor of the tea itself. My muse is actually caffeine, and the jolt it gives me seems to wake up the creative centers of my mind. Hot tea will serve as well, but iced tea is preferred.
After all of the ranting I’ve been doing lately about not wanting to understand my creative process too much, I confess that I understand this part of it pretty well. When I drink tea I know I can write better. One of the reasons I do very little creative writing in the evening is because I don’t drink tea then, fearing being kept awake all night. In the early mornings, though, when the house is quiet and the iced tea is flowing, the words are flowing as well.
Of course it’s cliche to talk about writers getting their inspiration or their courage or whatever from drink, specifically alcohol, but a cliche exists because it has some basis in fact.
Hemingway was a famous drinker. So was Faulkner.
John Gardner was considered a writer’s writer. He is known for several instructive books about creative writing as well as many highly regarded novels including Grendel, October Light, and Nickel Mountain. He also wrote an important book about the role of literature called On Moral Fiction.
Gardner was a troubled soul, having accidentally killed his older brother when operating some farm equipment as a pre-teen. He lived with the guilt and horror of that incident all of his life, and drink was one of his ways of coping. He once told an interviewer that he only wrote when he was drunk, but he claimed to be drunk most of the time.
I’m certainly not going to pursue my muse down those avenues, and I think I could write my fiction without the help of iced tea — but perish that thought!