When I finished grad school, about a year and a half ago, I was so burned out on writing fiction that I more or less quit doing it for awhile. My immediate fallback was poetry, and I'd like to think I've produced a decent number of poems in the past 18 months. But one day, I decided to try my hand at personal essays.
This was new territory for me, although I've since finished a handful of pieces and read several memoirs along the way. My main frustration during this process has been encountering a goodly number of pieces in which the author is 1) boozing constantly, 2) bed hopping like it's a contest to be won, or 3) both drinking and fucking.
There's nothing inherently wrong with either of these things, as long as you're not damaging yourself or anyone else (everything in moderation and all that). Almost everyone I know has a secret stash of liquor for emergencies, or else someone they can call when they're feeling, ahem, restless. But I'm starting to wonder if everyone with a book deal is an alcoholic nymphomaniac.
Perhaps in an effort to push back against this, I write about pop culture, family, home, tattoos, and my mental health. This may not be compelling in the same way a binge drinking-fueled orgy is, but everyday life is not necessarily extraordinary, and people need to know that their experience is valid. This is part of what's great about social media. People say stupid stuff on Twitter and they post really banal things on Facebook. Maybe it's annoying sometimes, or spectacular in the "Thank God I didn't say that" kind of way, but it's also comforting to know that other people get as bored or as silly or as outraged as you do. And so this is the beauty of a non-drinking, non-sexyfuntimes essay: you see that someone out there GETS IT.
No disrespect to the authors who've sprung to mind (and shall remain nameless) while I write this post; they are often good writers, and I'm sure they're not bad people. And God knows I've done my share of stupid shit. But I can't help wondering how they function if they're always in bed with a hangover or else a new partner. I have way too many things to do with my life to spend it like that.