Saturday, 9 April 2016


I sometimes use this blog as a way to force myself to admit certain things. I don’t use it professionally, or as professionally as I should rather, and I dread to think how many poorly written blog posts I have in the archive. I also dread to think how many new-year-resolution like promises I have set myself on here. This post is a cross between resolution, confession and statement.

It won’t come as any surprise to people who drink alcohol that as you age, hangovers increase in their ability to render one totally bloody useless. If you’re reading this aged thirty or under, you may have had your fair share of shocking hangovers where your head is suffering 9.0 Richter scale devastation and you lose track of a day or two, yet no matter how horrific the cramps, shakes, sweats, paranoia and guilt, should there be an un-missable party that very night, mere hours after you were contemplating religious conversion or emigration, then the chances are you would be capable of dragging your backside out of bed or off the couch and after one or two drinks, of which the first few gulps are similar to downing battery acid barely preventing instant rejection through the nostrils, you are back on top form, shouting at the barstaff for tequila shots and busting out the caterpillar that the night before nearly resulted in a broken jaw. It’s amazing how we do it, how we put ourselves through the cycle of pain-euphoria-fear-joy. For the most part, despite occasional humiliating/violent/financially ruinous/emotionally traumatizing experiences, we have a great time and after a few days of feeling sorry for oneself, plenty of water and cold showers, questioning looks at work and trembling glances at bank balances, we look back with enormous fondness and spend the rest of our lives retelling with gusto. It's not quite so clear cut trying all that when you are closer to 40 than 20.

Forget for now all the reasons why we go out and have a good time and the consequences we are prepared to tackle, except one – to suffer the loss of the following day. That is the single point of my blog post today and what I want to talk about. I could write a thousand blog posts on the highs and lows of drinking as there are innumerable subjects to discuss, yet today, this one is important to me because it has been creeping up on me for a while now and is something I have changed about my life.

I am no longer prepared to lose time because of hangovers. I am thirty six years old and have no intentions of stopping drinking. Hopefully, should I avoid the reaper for a while yet there will be lots of birthdays, Christmases, stag do’s, Grand National’s (I’m writing this five hours before the race, come on Silviniaco Conti you son-of-a-gun!) and other celebrations in which I’ll be having a drink so this isn’t about giving up booze, no way. What it is about is taking a serious and honest look at the way drinking is impacting the single most important thing in my life, which is improving my writing.

Forget watching how much coffee you drink, vegetable consumption, whole meal instead of plain ratio, omega five intake and all that other stuff which is vitally important but rendered useless in its fight against a Margarita & Whisky Sour overload. Also forget about how much sleep you should get, going to bed early and sticking to a routine business, again vitally important and what I am trying to do, but also speared straight through the heart by the fatal just-one-more-syndrome. Forget exercise, which I also love and take seriously, albeit in fits and bursts (sorry for pun) because that too will only turn into the game of find-a-big-enough-tree-to-vomit-behind-so-the-dog-walkers-can’t-see when trying to do your hill dashes on a Sunday morning.

Yeah, I'll have another one, thanks. It may be early morning but after this last beer and a good four hour sleep I shall be in perfect condition to write my masterpiece!

The truth is that nothing is more disruptive to me today, than drinking too much. It spoils not just the next day, but because I am trying to be a responsible and well organized writer, the week. You play catch up for days. That’s why this is a bit of a confessional, I have to admit that I have a problem with drinking. Before you private message me the number for a branch of the AA, I don’t mean in that way. I mean, I still think I can drink and get away with it. I don’t drink a lot, and that, although a good thing, is why I am still living in denial. I can’t handle a session anymore yet I still think I can. It’s a lie! Alcohol, the great deceiver!

Here is the core of it: If I drink two pints or more then I cannot write the next day. You may laugh, you may think that two pints isn’t much, and within my society, my friendship group, my own sense of what I used to be, it isn’t! Which is why I keep falling for trying it!

It’s become very clear to me over the course of the last year that I need to up my game in terms of the amount I write everyday. I am still struggling to be as serious as I want to be and a lot of that is general procrastination issues and so on, yet there is another element that I need to be honest about. I need to be able to wake up every day and be in a clear-headed frame of mind in order to produce decent work. There is no way around that, I am not writing enough. I will not get anywhere at my current rate. I’ll use this very blog post as an example. I’m currently at 900 odd words and it’s taken me twenty minutes, I’m not editing as I go or going to re-read like I normally would with my fiction, but it’s a rate at which I am comfortable at, and at which I know I can replicate. I didn’t drink last night and I don’t have any upset stomach or cloudy head as a result and I can simply get on with it. If I had a hangover, I may not even have got myself to the laptop, but if I had managed it, my concentration span would be reduced and my nervousness and self-consciousness at what I was typing increased. I wouldn’t be as quick in referencing facts, events, words, synonyms or terms online and there is a good chance I would have given up. I wouldn’t be able to think straight about the plot and character, where I am going and my objective for the chapter or short story I am on. It’s sounds so ridiculously obvious but it is something that actually gets me very down. I am upset with myself if I don’t get any writing done in a day, and that is made doubly worse if it is a self inflicted reason such as drinking.

Listen, Christopher Hitchins or Charles Bukowski I ain’t.

I don’t feel ashamed saying that. To compare yourself to others is a futile task and as much as there is a certain aura with people who have iron cast constitutions, there is no point chasing it if you haven’t got it! It’s a fool’s errand that will lead you in to a bad way. I have no intentions of trying to keep up with the people around me in social terms, it is not a point of reference for me anymore. The only thing that is important to me is creating something meaningful with my writing and to complete something as quickly as a I possibly can. Things that block my writing have to be examined, as they should be considered my enemy.

I like going out and meeting my friends. I really enjoy sitting at one of my local pubs and drinking a pint while reading. I don’t want to miss out. I must be truthful and I must confront the issues in my life at the same time though and this year has taught me an important lesson. I don’t want to turn 40 and still be talking about writing my first novel. I must put a stop to all the things that are blocking my writing as otherwise I will be.

So, please excuse the poor-me type reflection of this blog post. It's nothing serious really, just another part of growing up and trying to be more responsible, being aware of how quickly time goes and using it to your best advantage. The subject has been playing on my mind for a while now so I thought I would share it with you. If I could wake up every day bright as a button with a clear head and sprightly step and jump on to the laptop ready to go then brilliant. The thing is, I can. If I do a number of things that enable that, I have the capability, but I am harming my opportunities. I will blog about the huge number of other things that are in my life and go towards negating my writing output another time, but for today, I will admit something that every adult (and rascal teenager) already know. Hangovers are the bloody worst.

Come on Silviniaco Conti!

Have a great Saturday everyone,

R.G Rankine