Dear Mr. Information,

So I write, and pretty well, but not enough. I drink, and pretty well, by that I mean I sometimes know when to quit and how to pace the pint glasses of water and sometimes I don't. And I'm a woman, which means the cards are stacked against me, in the way Virginia Woolf's stones were stacked in her pockets and Sylvia Plath's head was stacked in the oven. </p>

So. How does one balance the reckless living and experience-gathering, with the business of sitting down to make sure the goddamn drama ends up on the goddamn page?

Dear Weighted Down,

Well there are two ways to do this. One is do your writing on a meth binge. This is how Less Than Zero, On The Road and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas came to be. That said, most humans don't have the capacity to survive self destruction as those three did (and, note, only one of them is still breathing.)

So that leaves option two, which is harder but just as effective.

Don't write drunk. Being drunk gives you great ideas for writing but doesn't give you the ability to write them out well. But what you can do is when you come home from drinking write out the ideas you have before you forget them in the morning.

Then, when you are hungover turn those ideas into good writing. Writing hungover is awesome because it distracts you from your hangover pain and you generally have just enough alcohol in your system to be creative but not so much that you'll suck at structure and nuance.

I'm not sure I agree with you that being a woman means the odds are stacked against you as a writer. Self destruction in a writer crosses all genders.

While James Ellroy was writing his first novel he was living illegally by sleeping on various golf courses he could break into and getting high by shoplifting nasal spray and eating the stuff inside them (which at the time was similar to super cheap meth.) He'd also had his mother killed by a serial killer, was raised by a dad who made him go to school dressed like a Nazi before he simply stopped going to school when he was 12 and had been in jail for breaking into homes and stealing teenage girls' panties. You probably have fewer obstacles than that to overcome.


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