Writing Is My Drug …

writing is my drugThis morning I was reading Stephen King’s On writing – A Memoir of the Craft, which is an amazing book I’d love to share more detail on, but that’s another blog entirely. For today I’ll just focus on one aspect. He talks briefly about the idea put forward by many artists that creativity and mind altering substances go hand in hand. Stephen King himself suffered from addiction, first alcohol then drugs. At the time he was afraid that without them he would lose his ability to be creative, even though he started writing long before he started drinking. Once he’d overcome these addictions he realised it was a myth.

It made me think about the idea and how many musicians, writers, painters, etc. claim drugs enhance their creativity but I have to say in my mind it couldn’t be more opposite. I’m not going to get on my high-horse and say these people shouldn’t take drugs, it’s  a personal choice, if that’s what works for them that’s fine but ultimately Stephen King said it right. “Hemingway and Fitzgerald didn’t drink because they were creative, alienated, or morally weak. They drank because that’s what alkies are wired up to do.”

I don’t take drugs and I don’t drink but that’s not to say I haven’t in the past. In fact despite my current herbal tea, yoga and meditation ritual I used to be quite a party animal. The truth is: ever since writing became such an active part of my life I no longer feel the need to engage in any of that. I still socialise and go to parties, I dance and laugh—I absolutely know how to have a good time but getting wasted doesn’t tempt me in the slightest.

I certainly have never bordered near the extreme of alcoholic but I won’t lie, it used to be a means of escape. When I was unsure of myself and my mind was constantly racing I didn’t know what else to do with myself. Sometimes when I needed to relax there was nothing quite like a beer at the end of the day.  I guess it also enhanced social situations but in reality I do just fine without it. It’s just that writing has now substituted it completely. I no longer have thousands of thoughts and ideas trapped in my head, they have an outlet and the more creativity there is in my life the more balanced I feel.

The imagination is an amazing place, I don’t think it needs substances to make it richer. If you want to take drugs take drugs but don’t say you have to do it for the sake of your art. If you feel the inclination to be creative chances are it’s because your brain is built that way. Regardless of whether you take drugs or not it’s going to exist. If you’ve taught yourself you can only work when you’re under the influence then that’s probably what will happen. Take all of that away—the creativity still exists you just need to give it a chance to find its own way out.

“Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”

Amen Stephen King.

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Pop-Culture Makes Me Sick

The-Room-Close-up

I have this strange obsession with going against the mainstream, basically if something becomes really popular I will declare that I hate it and refuse to take part in any enthusiasm surrounding it. I’m not sure what it is, perhaps some in-built rebellion to exist as my own entity rather than following the masses. Humans are predictable but I like to think there are a few things that make me unique, I don’t just jump on bandwagons and say I like things because everyone else does.

Unfortunately this does mean I miss out on a few things. For example, for a while everyone was Seinfeld crazy, I said I didn’t like it even though I’d never watched it, then I had to wait a good ten years for everyone to forget about it before I could give it a try. The lame thing is: it’s now my favourite TV show!  I have a whole list of similar scenarios, where I end up falling in love with the very thing I passionately hated. The alternative is secretly enjoying popular culture and hiding my filthy habit away from the world—Vampire Diaries *cough*. But the one that absolutely kills me is when I discover something amazing that most people don’t know about then all of a sudden it hits the commercial sellers list and—bam—everyone’s  into it! Then I turn bitter against everyone who didn’t take the time to discover it for themselves and waited for it to be spoon fed to them. Those who know me will be nodding their heads right now …

Now that you know my personal attitude towards pop-culture I would like to introduce something that delights me. I can’t claim to have discovered this on my own for someone told me about this movie and took me along for the ride, but it’s a symbol of everything I stand for. The movie is called The Room which is an independent film: financed, written, directed and produced by a man named Tommy Wiseau,  who had absolutely no experience working in film. When released it grossed a measly $1 800, and earned the title of the worst film ever made. Everything about this movie is terrible; the acting is ridiculous, the plot is virtually non-existent, the filming is all over the place and there are so many inconsistencies you can barely figure out who the characters are and why they’re in the movie.

Why on earth would you watch this movie? Because it’s so bad that it’s good.

It has developed a cult following, usually it’s shown late at night from Indie cinemas (in Perth Western Australia it can be seen at Luna Palace in Leederville),  people go there to laugh at the incredibly bad production and yell abuse while they throw plastic cutlery at the screen. I heard about this phenomenon many months ago and was busting with excitement at the thought of being allowed to go into a cinema and throw things, not to mention the fact that I could shout too. So I waited patiently for another screening and finally the time came when I got to experience it first-hand.

Before going to a screening of The Room you need to read the viewers guide.

http://www.avclub.com/articles/a-viewers-guide-to-the-room,25721/

Although it’s perfectly acceptable to make up your own insults there is actually a structure to follow. So I did my homework, I read and revised the guide, even had a practice viewing at home so I wouldn’t miss any of the cues. After arriving at Luna’s outdoor cinema on Sunday night I was thrilled to see a big crowd, the staff passed around buckets filled with plastic cutlery and encouraged patrons to get drunk and make as much noise as possible. Before the film began we were given a basic run through of the viewer’s guide and told it was time to let go of the rules drilled into us as children about being silent in movies. I have to say it was a very liberating experience and I found every minute of it hilarious. It was funny enough hearing people shout insults at the expected moments but it was even better when the slander was spontaneous. People were shaking fists of outrage, a couple even stood beneath the screen to make their point and all the while handfuls of plastic cutlery were flying through the air. Being hit in the head with knives and forks was a small price to pay.

So while it was an amazing experience it was also a perfect example of breaking convention, it feels good to get out there and do something that we’ve been taught we’re not allowed to do. And it all started from someone watching the film and thinking yes this is terrible, everyone hates it but you know what, I think it’s hilarious and we should throw spoons at it!