In Boozo Veritas # 53 by Teege Braune
This week, Tuesday, August fifth to be exact, marks the first birthday of In Boozo Veritas. Like most one year olds, In Boozo Veritas is not aware that this is its birthday. No one thought that it would survive this long. When John King first asked me to write this weekly blog he had no idea that I was a habitual procrastinator who never had a penchant for commitment. Well, I’ve been working for the same bar for seven years and somehow I’ve convinced an incredibly intelligent and beautiful woman to agree to marry me, so perhaps I do not give myself enough credit. Like any long term commitment, this blog has taught me several things about myself. For starters, I’ve become aware that my pathological procrastination is not only a bad habit, it also my modus operandi. Attempting to think about a subject for my blog before Sunday morning is a mostly a useless endeavor. Even if I come up with a topic that I like, I won’t be able to think of anything I want to say about it. It really doesn’t matter how bored, busy, or preoccupied I am. On those rare occasions in which a subject seems too obvious to be avoided, Ernest Hemingway’s birthday for example,
or William S. Burroughs’s, I still find myself agonizing over my approach, the way in, so to speak, until the very last minute. More than once I’ve slinked off to bed on Sunday night defeated, believing this to be the week that I simply couldn’t get it together and form five hundred or so words into some kind of cohesive thought, description, or argument. My Aha! moment usually comes before dawn. I awake suddenly from quickly fading dreams drenched in sweat, the entire damn blog throbbing in my restless brain. I want desperately to put it out of my mind for a few more hours, roll over, and go back to sleep, but this proves impossible. Peace will not come until I’ve completed my task. I’ve written most of my best blogs this way. I won’t tell you which ones. You decide which of my blogs are your favorites, and then assume those are the blogs I wrote as the sun arose on any given Monday morning.
There are exceptions, of course. As Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, has taught us, “An essential portion of any artist’s labor is not creation so much as invocation. Part of the work cannot be made, it must be received; and we cannot have this gift except, perhaps, by supplication, by courting, by creating within ourselves that ‘begging bowl’ to which the gift is drawn.” The artist may prepare a room for inspiration, but it is folly to expect lightening to strike simply because one is standing with an extended rod in a thunder storm. At my worst, I’ve emailed John my blog entry at five pm on Monday afternoon seventeen hours past my deadline. Fortunately, he is always kind in these moments. We are both aware, in the back of our minds, that the only real consequence that would befall us were I too miss a week would be the shattering of my own ego, but what a delicate ego it is, and how shiny. It would be a shame to see an object of such lovely craftsmanship come to such a swift and tragic demise.
On those even rarer occasions in which I’m ahead of the curve, I employ a process I call Playing Hemingway. The way I heard it, and I’ve never been able to verify this story through reputable sources, was that Hemingway, who would have preferred to drink rather than write, knew that the latter justified the former. Taking this justification very literally, he wouldn’t allow himself to have his first drink until he finished a page, his second drink until he finished two more pages, and so on. It is unlikely that he always played by his own rules if he in fact used this process at all. Is he who keeps an ace up his sleeve while playing solitaire a wise man or a fool? I too have cheated at this game no one but myself has compelled me to play, though when I do so, it is only I who suffer. Writing while drunk is one thing, but I find I can never begin writing while drunk. Something about that initial momentum, those first couple of sentences, requires sobriety. Perhaps benzedrine would do the trick, but this isn’t the Beat Generation, is it? What generation is this anyway?
Truth be told, I’m not really sure what John had in mind when he asked me to write In Boozo Veritas, a name he chose and I have since come to adore. His only instructions were that I write something about drinking and literature. As a loose guide, I have used this topic to write everything from memoir, to journalism, to critical essay, to satire, to dadaist prose poem. Once or twice I’ve dispensed with drinking and literature altogether. If John’s instructions had been more rigid, I might never have gotten anything accomplished at all. In general, I’ve simply let the muse take me, late to the party though she usually is. Another thing I’ve discovered about myself is this: that I think about drinking more than I actually indulge in it. This wasn’t always the case. Entire months out of my twenties are blurry, half-remember bouts of consumption and debauchery, but I’m older now, and even though I still think of myself as a lush, I’ve grown temperate in my thirties. Okay, temperate may be overstating it, and my membership in the Prohibition Party is merely ironic. Maybe I’ll be drunk by the time I finish this blog. Maybe I’m drunk as you read these very words.
With a little luck and a tad more commitment, I’ll keep In Boozo Veritas going for another year and who knows, if John will have me, another year after that.
Teege Braune (episode 72, episode 75, episode 77, episode 90, episode 102) is a writer of literary fiction, horror, essays, and poetry. Recently he has discovered the joys of drinking responsibly. He may or may not be a werewolf.