I’ve been a fan of booze for a long time. I like everything from ice cold beers to crisp glasses of white wine and full-mouthed glasses of red to cocktails both creative and mundane (a standard G&T is fine with me). In my professional career, I’ve researched the impacts of alcohol use on towns and communities, and what predisposes people to become violent or prone to addiction, as well as looking deeply at the culture of college drinking in our country.
Through it all, I’ve remained a happy drinker, albeit possibly an overly paranoid one, since so much of my work has focused on identifying patterns of alcohol abuse. “Am I drinking too much?” is a question that is ALWAYS somewhere in my mind, much like my physician husband always imagines the worse diagnoses for himself after a fall or odd muscle ache.
However, ever since I hit my mid-30s and had a kid, I’ve noticed that I’m not as quick the morning after a couple of glasses of wine or cocktails. It’s a muddy feeling, not a hangover in that I want to sit around all day with greasy food and bad TV but more that my mind doesn’t feel as sharp. I left my professional career a year and a half ago to write a book about my research on the health and safety of college students at elite schools, and to be with my child, and do a lot of home renovations on our 1875 fixer-upper. My daughter is now in a part-time daycare and will transition to preschool in the fall and the house has new appliances and light fixtures, fresh paint (every surface including ceilings and moldings), refinished floors, new windows, new insulation and is a warm and restful place.
It’s time to write both the book I wanted to work on and other projects that are pushing at my conscience.
Through all of the childcare and the physically demanding work of home renovation and especially when I was working, there was no impact that my moderate drinking had on the following day. I could still give presentations or write reports, play all day and care for my child or hang ceiling fans or paint rooms with ease. By contrast, writing the morning after a couple of glasses of wine does not come easily and worse, I struggle to order my day effectively to accomplish creative work and personal tasks. I’m coupling this observation with another that I’ve made of childhood acquaintances of mine who are Mormon: Mormons don’t drink alcohol or caffeine and the Mormon women with whom I grew up have at least four children and (it appears) boundless energy to blog and chauffeur their kids around and make meals for enormous families and run races and refinish furniture and quilt (not all of them all of those things, obviously).
I’m curious enough to try an experiment in my own life. Is this muddy feeling getting in the way of pursuing a creative career? Is it worth it to try and scale back the nightly drinks in order to keep myself as sharp as possible? I have a feeling that (for me) work that requires creative focus is going to require my clearest mind, and that is slowly appearing to be one without alcohol.
I’m not going to go full-on abstinence here (I detest extremes of all types) but I’d like to answer the following question: If I’m pursuing a full-time career as an author, and it appears that alcohol may be hindering my best efforts at creativity, then what happens if I cut back the nightly drinks during the work week?
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