Why Writers Drink

Much as I enjoy my glass of single malt, I’m not one of those writers who feels there’s a link between creativity and alcoholism.  Rather I would say that, done well, writing keeps certain wounds and sorrows alive in an author long after another man might have gotten past them.  Drink makes you feel better – and then destroys you and your talent.  So that’s one thing.

Another is exemplified by my calendar – and no, I’m not talking about the inexorable passage of time.  I have one of those Word Origin calendars – my beloved daughter gave it to me for Christmas.  Every day it tells you the origin of another word or phrase.  Here’s the entry for yesterday, Monday, the 21st of March:

an offer you can’t refuse:  One of the best known lines in movie history comes from the 1972 film The Godfather, when the Mafia kingpin played by Marlon Brando says of an adversary, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse. “

And the thing is:  no, it doesn’t.  The line comes from the novel The Godfather by Mario Puzo – who also co-wrote the film script.  All Brando did was say the words Puzo put in his tissue-stuffed mouth.

As Joseph L. Mankiewicz said of actresses:  “I shall never understand the weird process by which a body with a voice suddenly fancies itself as a mind. Just when exactly does an actress decide they’re HER words she’s speaking and HER thoughts she’s expressing?”

Mankiewicz – you know – the guy who wrote the screenplay to All About Eve.

Forget it.  I need a drink.

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  • EssemSF

    Mankiewicz makes a good point. One of the embarrassments of American culture these last few decades is the assumption that actors are wise. Especially, of course, if their political attitudes match the prevailing winds of Hollywood. We treat as oracles people whose real talent lies in making believe they are someone they are not.

    Many cultures ranked actors with prostitutes. Not such a bad idea, although it might be offensive to prostitutes.

  • RKae

    There is no connection between alcoholism and creativity, but there IS a connection between alcoholism and pretentiousness. Writers who think their cool-guy lifestyle helps them write are more than I can stand. A messy desk doesn’t make a person a genius, and a highball glass doesn’t make a writer into an artist.

  • Bea M. Garcia

    Andrew, on top form, as always.
    Please, limit the booze.
    We need more of your genius not less.
    Godspeed from a beautiful London.

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