And how Amazing Things Happen When I Stop Drinking
I don’t get anything done if I have a hangover. Apart from eating greasy food and having naps and feeling guilty about all the things I should be doing. Like writing and making art. And should is the wrong word here. They’re the things I want to do but don’t do because I’m too tired/have no energy/zero motivation/can’t think clearly. Take your pick.
Two years ago, on the 1st of January, I decided to take a break from drinking. For three months I wouldn’t have that glass of wine, which turned to two, probably three, or a couple of beers, you know, after a long day of work. Take the edge off. I deserve it. Not every day but maybe four out of seven.
About three weeks in my head felt clear. I was less tired. Ideas started flowing. In that time I made some art and I sat down and wrote. After three months I was so productive that, surely, I could keep it up, even if I had a few drinks here and there.
Turns out I couldn’t. As the alcohol flowed my creativity slowly trickled away and eventually dried up.
Fast forward to the following year, 1st of January. This time I would stop for six months. I’d had this idea for a book I wanted to write for my son and I knew I couldn’t do it with a hangover. By the end of March I had finished the first draft, writing almost every day, carving out the time to get it done.
During this time I read articles online about finding purpose and reinventing yourself, that kind of thing, and read books on productivity and the creative process, and it slowly dawned on me that my really great job as an art gallery event coordinator, that paid the bills and allowed me to buy stuff, wasn’t right for me anymore. Too much energy went into the role, into someone else’s dream. I had my own dreams now.
By June I had resigned from my job and enrolled in a six-month art and design course. I’m lucky that I have a supportive husband who works full time, which allowed me to work only a few hours each week while I studied.
By July I’d finished editing my book and gave it to my son for his 11th birthday. He loved it. By August I was ready to start submitting it to literary agents.
I was drinking again by then. Not much, maybe only two or three nights out of seven, but enough to feel myself sliding backwards, and enough to recognise that perhaps I wasn’t doing my best work. By September I managed to take a two-month break from drinking while I finished my course.
Then came the time where I wasn’t sure what to do next. Would I continue art school next year? Would I get an evening job that allowed me to do my own creative work during the day? I actually went for a job interview in a bar. Somewhat misguided and counter-productive, I know. I didn’t get the job but I had plenty to drink over Christmas.
Fast forward to this year. It’s April now and I’ve been sober since January 1st. I’m doing a year this time, though part of me suspects I’ll commit to another year once the 1st of January rolls around again.
I’m slowly building my art business, developing products and selling them at markets twice a month and via my Etsy store.
My book has gone through a tightening and polishing after being rejected by the agents I sent them to last year. I rewrote large parts of it and it’s way better now. Yesterday I submitted it again.
Soon I will begin working on my second novel, this time for adults.
I work casual hours at the art gallery and on days off I work for me. There’s still some way to go before I get to make a living from doing what I love but if I keep moving forwards, every day, eventually I know I will get there.
Some days I almost convince myself that it’d be nice to sit down and share a bottle of pinot noir with a few friends. I envy those people who can take it or leave it. It appears I’m an all or nothing girl. Drinking just isn’t an option anymore. If I want to keep the clarity and focus to get to where I want to go, be the person that I want to be, it’ll have to be nothing. And that’s cool.