I thought all writers drank to excess and beat their wives. You know, at one time I think I secretly wanted to be a writer.
–The Philadelphia Story
Maybe artists can forego nasty habits, addictive rituals and obsessive practices. Maybe. There’s nothing that says writing the great American novel requires an intoxicating level of whiskey. Oils and opium don’t necessarily mix. Or similes and opium. Or tone poems and opium.
No, having a dependency cross to bear isn’t required, but it’s pretty standard issue according to history. That doesn’t make it right, mind you. Then again, it ain’t necessarily wrong, either. Whatever gets you through the night. Or through the chapter. As long as you’re left standing when you come out the other side. Sure.
What I’m getting at is my own peculiar slant, of course. I’ve been writing full-time now for a little while. A privileged position, that’s for sure. But from the start I’ve had one overriding vision, one fantasy that’s dogged my particular work set-up. I’ve longed to write and take a drag at the same time.
See, I’ve been grinding out my so-called art in a smoke-free zone. No cigarettes, no pipes, no cigars, no nothing. When I wanted a smoke, I stopped writing. I had to split myself in two, a synthetic division between aspects that are inseparable as far as I’m concerned. So everything got broken up, cornered, boxed in. Smoking became relegated to breaks. And I took plenty of them. Sure.
That’s all over now. I can be slow to the game, but I’ve finally discovered one of those great writer resources, a superb tool for anyone whose creative and addictive make-ups are inseparable. I’m talking about vaping, the big brother to disposable e-cigarettes. Loading up one of those overgrown, cylindrical devices with nicotine-punched juice and sucking up clouds of vapor that disperse in the air like mist.
What I’m aiming for is enhancing the creative process. I’ll leave the health and social aspects to other writers. I’m concerned with making the work happen. Removing obstacles, finding solutions, making it cook.
I’ve reclaimed my writing desk with vaping. Its part of my work now, no different than the cup of coffee at my side or the cell phone close at hand. Technology in this 21st century has fulfilled my working habit in more ways than one.
I can imagine Chandler laughing it off: “Why don’t you just get a damn hookah?”
Spillane got all PC towards the end. He’d probably say whatever floats your boat makes no never mind to him. As long as you aren’t harming anyone else. Then he’d turn his back.
I’d like to think that Hammett would’ve given it a whirl. It always struck me there was an experimental side to his nature.
The Great Edgar–he’d lap it up altogether, figuratively speaking. He’d dabble with all the stock variations of e-juice. When those were exhausted, he’d move onto things of an illicit nature. Call him Edgar “Leary” Poe.
There are probably those out there that depend from nothing and can’t relate. Maybe nothing comes between them and the words. No shot, no stein. No stick, no Havana, no weed. The only fix they require is the work itself. I guess art takes all kinds.