Bad Writing Advice V, “Ideas Overdose”

Um, excuse me, I’m not being competitive. It’s you who’s being competitive. And immature.

I mean, c’mon, if I was really trying to sabotage your writing career would I be sharing all these precious secrets? If literature was the NSA, I’d be in Moscow right now sipping vodka and flirting with sexy bears instead of dealing with you pain-in-the-putins. All I’m saying is that I’ve been opening myself up here and, well, you haven’t exactly been gentle in return. What’ve I received for my efforts? Suspicion. Skulduggery. Ornery emails. Identity fraud. A new breed of herpes. UGANDA. So if you’re feeling even slightly ashamed of your behavior then I’d advise you to send a little support to des.wilder@gmail.com. We’ll work out the Paypal later.

In the meantime, read on. Puppy’s gravely ill and the only cure is more page likes.

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Or she might be sleepy, the only caffeine – twenty reposts.

Today we’re going to talk about ideas. Have you noticed writers hate being asked where their ideas come from? A book signing or Q&A is incomplete without a hipster in gingham and Buddy Holly horn-rims imploring into the writer’s cerebral sources. There’s always that restless silence in response. Maybe an exaggerated sigh, or wrung-out side grin. Ultimately there’s the answer. “My ideas come from the world we live in,” the writer will respond, or “from the corner of my eye.” “From the muse.”

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I usually find mine in nature.

That’s because they don’t want to admit they were really high.

Yes. Drugs are every great writer’s source of ideas. That’s the secret. Opiates, painkillers, methamphetamines, orphan endorphins. Psychadelic basically means creative. Heroin is like an intravenous injection of inspiration. If you’re trying to score ideas, score coke first.

Think about it. Would you rather come up with an idea, or have it handed to you by a unicorn made of ice cream?

Even the nominal drugs, like alcohol, have been an asset to some fine ass writing. Name five writers who were alcoholics (here’s a hint: Hunter S. Thompson, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, and all the rest). Now name one writer who never had a sip of alcohol in their entire life. As Raymond Chandler once said:

I’ll always be an alcoholic, but I’m no longer a practicing alcoholic.

… because as they say, practice makes perfect — and by the time he said that, he’d had all the practice he needed.

But back to the hardcore stuff. An addiction will keep you in the house and away from distractions. It’ll build routine. Why do you think they call it habit-forming? It’ll be easier to write dialogue with all those voices in your head. And if you run out, you can choose whether your manic chair-biting depression is a symptom of withdrawal, or the rumblings of a troubled poet’s heart.

I’ve witnessed this first-hand. My Uncle Phil was a psychedelic drug user, a real psychonaut if you will, and he would come up with some grade-A material — like how Greek statues had all their arms stolen by time-travelers. I can’t remember if that was a story idea or if he witnessed it happening, but in any case Phil will have plenty of time to write his novel (or cult manifesto) as he’s in prison for something to do with molotov cocktails and a child’s birthday party. Which, I might add, was actually pretty awesome until all those people died.

But Dezzie Bear, you’re probably saying from your food-splattered cocoon, there are plenty of books that weren’t written by drug-fueled hobos. Oh, reader, I would respond, your naiveté is a whiff of fresh air in a peasant orgy. I’d love to ruin your childhood, so you should probably know that  J.K. Rowling wrote her beloved children’s series while hacking up tumors and taking hits off the old crack pipe. The pothead reference in “Harry Potter” is as old as the Internet, but did you know that Sorcerer’s Stone is street talk for crystal meth? It looks like I’ve caught ol’ Jelly Rowls flagrant delicto, which I might add is actually Latin.

Yes, drugs. Lovely, lovely drugs. Somewhere in-between sobbing uncontrollably and fighting space gorillas you’re going to overdose on ideas. As Chandler put it so saliently:

I made a wasteland out of everything I touched.

A beautiful reference to America’s greatest poem Wasteland by T.S. Eliot.

And besides, you’ll only be setting yourself up for an autobiography. The industry has been growling for more memoirs about drug addiction.

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Or in puppy’s case, a dependency on high fructose corn syrup.

Bibliography:

  • Simpson, Mona, & Lewis Buzbee. “Raymond Chandler, the Art of Fiction No. 76.” The Paris Review #88, Summer 1983. Print.