There seems to be a feeling among those tortured with the desire to create something with words, that a reckless lifestyle comes with the territory. Whether it is the unsocial hours, staying up all night to escape the demands and intrusion of daylight, or the recreational use of substances, artists are a different species. The stereotypical image of a writer slouched over the keyboard,half cut or brain frazzled helps those who have drifted into that lifestyle persuade themselves that it is an occupational hazard that has to be endured, or perhaps enjoyed.
It is hard to argue with that opinion when expressed by successful authors. Do all the greats drink, do drugs and mess up their lives as a consequence? No. there are people out there living quietly with their imaginations intact and their thousands of words well crafted. Obviously nobody wants to hear about that, so they rarely have the celebrity status of the inebriates and drug addicts.
With a penchant for excess, I am hardly in a position to criticize the hedonistic behaviour of my betters. It is more of an observation than a supercilious sneer or am I deluding myself?. What intrigues me is why do some writers hit the bottle, reach for the needle, puff on the baccy (whether wacky or not) or pop pills that alter their perception of the world?
Do we need a pie chart to explain this phenomenon? Surely a research project has already published its findings on the correlation between addiction and creativity.
Yes, here’s the link to some research carried out in the USA by the University of Illinois.
I spent a very pleasant hour or so with my favourite Welshman listening to DBC Pierre read to a small crowd in the Dark Horse bar in Belfast last night. The man is amusingly affable and performed the role of cool cat author with beer bottle in hand, and his soft voice amplified to a jazzily rich baritone. Writers are fucked, writing is painful and the madness and mayhem puts words on the page. He should know.
But I was puzzled by the stark contrast between Mr DBC Pierre and Mr David Park. Both authors of world renown, but in their demeanour they couldn’t be more different. One modest and camera-shy, the other louche and followed around by a media circus with lights and cameras obtrusively in tow.
Does one return to the family home, switch on the kettle and sit down with the wife and kids before dashing off a few thousand words, while the other carouses the bars, falls into bed with a stranger, wakes before dawn to vomit and then creates his masterpiece?
My curiosity and verbosity should be put on a leash – both gentlemen are entitled to respect and a private life outside their readership’s imagined intimacy and the snide comments of an ingrate.