Drinking, Writing, and Self-Discovery

Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up

More than a year ago, I participated in a Q&A over at the Drinking Diaries website, which is a forum for women to share, vent, express, and discuss their drinking stories without judgment.

It was a fun experience and many wonderful comments came through, plus a couple people bluntly said they didn’t want to know the personal side of me—stick to professional writing and publishing advice, please.

So, fair warning, the Q&A veers away from professional writing advice. And so does the book I was asked to contribute to.

Drinking Diaries is an anthology of essays about women and drinking, edited by Leah Odze Epstein & Caren Osten Gerszberg, and published by Seal Press this month. I’m proud to say I’m a contributor, along with other remarkable women such as Jacquelyn Mitchard, Daphne Merkin, Kathryn Harrison, Ann Hood, Ann Leary, Pam Houston, Elissa Schappell, Asra Nomani, Priscilla Warner, Rita Williams, and Joyce Maynard.

My essay is dead last in the collection. Titled “Drinking as Genuine Vocation,” here’s a snippet from the middle:

I’ve always secretly thrilled at the thought that Alan Watts, a great enlightened person and spiritual teacher—admired by many—likely drank himself to death. I think it’s because alcohol helped him, like it helps me, focus on the ecstasy of what’s just right here, and to dig into the essence of life in this very moment, without the echo chamber of the mind going on and on and on. I feel more myself, without hang-ups, without getting stuck. I observe it all the more deeply and feel it all more acutely—and in this, perhaps I am like every other desperate writer, looking for the next remarkable thought.

William James said, “One of the charms of drunkenness unquestionably lies in the deepening sense of reality and truth which is gained therein. In whatever light things may then appear to us, they seem more utterly what they are, more ‘utterly utter’ than when we are sober.”

Drinking Diaries is now available as a paperback or e-book. Visit Amazon and read a sample chapter.

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Posted in Creativity + Inspiration, Growing Up, Love.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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