Monday, March 11, 2013

Portrait of the Artist as a Caffeine Addict


By Reece Hirsch

I am not particularly fussy or superstitious about my writing habits.  I can't afford to be given my schedule.  As I've mentioned here before, I wrote much of my new book on BART trains while riding back and forth to my law firm job.  But no matter where or when I'm writing, there is one constant -- I am probably going to be gacked up on caffeine.

While alcohol and writing have all sorts of mythic associations, coffee is vastly under appreciated as a literary muse and crutch.  Unless you're a brand name author, you probably have another job, cobbling together time to write at odd hours and on weekends.  And, if you're perpetually sleep-deprived, rising at 4 or 5 to knock out pages, what is the first thing that you probably do before sitting down at your computer?  You pour yourself a cup of joe.

Of course, some writers, like Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, have relied upon other more turbocharged stimulants to fuel their literary efforts.  However, unless you, like Thompson, have the constitution of an adult wildebeest, then coffee is a more sustainable alternative.

O, Coffee!  Even as I sit here writing this blog post on a Sunday morning, I am feeling the effects of that first cup of the day.  When I started writing this post, I must admit that I was still groggy from sleep.  Now that I'm on paragraph four, that little buzz has kicked in behind my eyes.  The morning fog has burned away, I'm descending through the thinning clouds to view a sparkling landscape that stretches to the horizon, and it's going to be a glorious day.  I WILL be productive.  I can just hear the new, inspired manuscript pages spitting out of my printer to assemble themselves in a nice neat stack on the corner of my desk.

But here we are in paragraph five, and I believe I'm already starting to lose a little of that altitude, that first cup acuity.  It's sort of like those tests that you take at the optician's office where you peer at the eye chart through that multi-lensed, steampunk-like contraption.  A new lens clicks in and everything is sharp and focused.  How's that?  "Great," I say.  How about this?  Another lens clicks into place and it's good, but just a bit muddier than the first.  "Let's go with the first," I say.  No, this is what you get.  That first one was only available for a limited time.

That means it's time for my second cup of the day.  Now, if you'll excuse me ....







4 comments:

Catriona McPherson said...

I'm going to need a third cup now! Do you ever go to bed at night alreadey looknig forward to your coffee in the morning?

Reece said...

The first step, Catriona, is admitting that we have a coffee problem ....

Meredith Cole said...

I'm hitting the caffeine hard today (oh, daylight savings time let me count the ways I dislike you...)! But I can't drink coffee at night (which is I guess another reason why I'm a morning writer!)

Reece said...

I'm also feeling the effects of that lost hour, Meredith. My prescription -- take two cups of coffee and let me know if symptoms persist.