How to Become a Published Drunk...


With Autumn approaching and the annual yearning of writer newbies to throw on a smoking jacket with matching cravat, sink deeply into a wing back chair and begin laying divinely inspired words onto that oh, so blank page... I thought this was a good time to dig out an old ditty of mine to give you inspiration, to bolster your enthusiasm, to support your every turn to become a Published Drunk.

No! Don't X me! 

Hear me out like your writing career depends on it.

Thank you. 

Please send all hate mail to the agent I've yet to take hostage. 

Now, I shall begin...


Chapter One — The Wet Bar

So you thought I'd come out of the gate with some divinely inspired ditty that would rocket your prose into the stratosphere, didn’t you?

You need fuel to achieve lift, newbie-hack-that-you-are; ergo, first, a drink!🍸

It’s not that you can’t get published without drinking… it’s that you won’t. 

How do I know, you ask? Ask again after I'm up a quart.

Ernest Hemingway, a seriously devoted alcoholic and deadly articulate scribe, once said, “Write drunk, edit sober,” to wit Hunter S. Thompson plagiarized Ernie by stealing the saying for himself, becoming an infamous author and ruthless drunk, eventually blowing out his brains with a Dirty Harry .44. Is it really plagiarism if the originator of said saying already blew his brains out with a double-barreled shot gun? In my now post-cocktail drinking thinking, I think not! Every writer has to start [drinking] somewhere, sometime, on the backs of some other drunken hack…

Now, back to the bar…


And I don’t mean the top of your dusty, grimy fridge where you put that half guzzled bottle of Canadian Club your best friend forgot to take home last Saturday as he staggered out your front door. I mean a serious, kick-ass liquid establishment, permanently built into your rec room.

Advice#1: do NOT install wet bar in your writing hovel. Make sure you have to work for those drinks by walking down a hall and down a flight of stairs. If you make it too easy to imbibe, you’ll die before you hack out the words “The End” to your first epic work, and nobody drools over an unknown hack, no romance nor longing there. 

In other words, Pace thyself!

Now, for funding…if your grandma dies and leaves you her “fun money”…


Reality Check#1: your grandma put all that dough on black and the number 7 in Laughlin, and had to hitch a ride home with a lonely trucker. 

Instead, take out a bank loan for the booze. A biggin’!

You’ll need at least 50 bottles to start, including boxes of glasses yet to be smashed, a swizzle stick — look up the word, sober hacks — and your own pop mix canisters and beer kegs. Apply for a government grant to pay off said loan and call the expense, “Research & Development.” Government employees have no sense of imagination. They get a comfy salary and a pension plan no matter if your application sucks or not, and who says it doesn’t take liquid courage to R&D? Ask any horribly unpaid computer nerd.

Get that friend — you know, the same loser who left that bottle of CC on your fridge — to build the bar. Tell him he owes ya big for getting that biker off his ass last Saturday. He remembers nothing and he needs your place as a secondary crib when his old lady kicks him out for drunkenness and public displays of nudity — long story.

Once you’ve completed the above, return here, exhausted, fingers impaled by wood splinters, and dead broke, and I shall continue to impart my drunkard wisdom, knowing then that we are all on a level — I mean tilted — playing field.

It takes time to become a great inebriated hack…and you eager beavers have the patience of a squirrel on Speed. Chill that bottle!🍾


Chapter Two — The Equipment


Nooo... not that kind of equipment!

No, you pervs, not those either!

More like this, 👇

There we go...

The right equipment is essential to craft next year’s Great American Novel.

Now, the type of hack you are will dictate what you need…

If you were born just shy of the Mesozoic Era, a good old Underwood typewriter is your best friend.

Reliable and hardworking, this beaut is made out of the ironclad carcasses of cockroaches, so it can survive Ground Zero of a nuclear bomb blast and keep on tickin’. (B.J. are you drunk? Timex watches keep on ticking, not Underwood’s, and you’ve never interviewed a nuclear-blast-surviving cockroach… geez.)

Before attempting to plunk down on the Underwood’s keys — and if you didn’t make a living hacking on that tank of a typewriter in the World Wars and haven’t acquired plunking calouses — you may want to do some serious pinky-finger push-ups ’cause short of a sledgehammer to the A and L keys, those suckers won’t hammer down for love nor money. 

A bonus feature to the Underwood: if your agent or editor says your manuscript pages stink, the Underwood can be used as a deadly weapon… if you can lift it. The Underwood was marketed as “portable”… for dinosaurs from the Mesozoic Era, that is…

For those of you a wee bit younger, may I suggest the IBM Golfball typewriter as your hacking friend?

Just as indestructible, just as “portable,” this baby was the electrified genius in its ’70s heyday, allowing your fingers to ream off 24 A’s and 13 L’s with the feathery light touch of your wimpy pinky fingers. Again, if agent or editor hates you and all the crappy pages you spew, you can recreate the “good ol’ times” Hunter S. Thompson had with his IBM, and take it outside and go all .44 Magnum on its Sherman tank-like chassis.


It won’t help your writing much but your neighbours will be quiet for once and you may get far less annoying calls from your agent/editor.

Now, if you’re one of those diehards — you know who you are — where paper and pen are the only divinely inspired objects worthy of your art, may I suggest a Gutenberg Bible quality paper and a 10 grand Mont Blanc pen? 

Oh, you say you haven’t sold a manuscript yet and are finding yourself nibbling on the edges of your dollar store quality paper for nourishment? Well then, stay calm and carry on, and if the ink is coming out of your cheap Bic pen in embarrassing blotches upon your nibbled pages, tell your agent/editor you’re working on a retro piece investigating starving artists who hacked away in the 1920s Paris Montparnasse District. The dude edits all day on far worse. He won’t even notice.

Now that you’ve assembled your equipment, you’ll need a cocktail napkin alongside your keyboard. Yes, finally, we return to the centre of your writing universe — the sacred cocktail.🍸

If any of you are ancient enough to remember a computer game called, Leisure Suit Larry,

 the original box came with a hi-tech floppy disc,
 and your own cocktail napkin. 👇
Even Larry knew such an object was vital… whether you were chattin’ up busty bar flies or hacking out the sequel to The Great Gatsby… cocktail napkin is a must! Style, colour, size, thickness, I’ll leave that all in your capable hands… but unless you’re typing on an Arborite table after hours in a nursery school, urbane comfort and wood grain protection is necessary to your overall writer mystique.


Chapter Three — The Idea

Oh, so you think you’re smart now, do you? You think you have the brightest idea since Edison screwed in a piece of bulbous glass and lit himself up like a Christmas tree.

I thought we covered this. You want to be a published DRUNK, remember? So, you already drink or are serious about taking up the art of imbibing, while you’re writing. Either way, your time drinking/damaging grey cells or your time stocking up your brand-new bar has far out shone the productive churning of your idea-machine.

Translation: Your original story idea SUCKS. Seriously. PATOOIE! I hate it.

Solution: Go on an adventure, “out there,” in the real world…

If you live in the US, take the cocktail with ya. 

If you’re in Canada, swig it back and go. 

Either country, DON’T DRIVE! YOU’RE HAMMERED! 

If you live in Europe, stay inside. You guys have way better wine cellars anyway. 

As for the rest of the world, I can’t think that far. I’m hammered.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes, The Idea. *taking another sip🍸*

So you’ve taken my advice, done a Jack Kerouac — and if you don’t know who HE is, you should be shot. Google him before I unload Hunter Thompson’s .44 on you —

and gone out and scratched and sniffed the world, and NOW you have the Idea of all Time and Space. 

Holy crap. I’m dead jealous — that’s what I get for staying inside and drinking. Now, all you have to do is start hammering those keys…

“Wait a darn tootin’ sec!” you say. 

“No thought, no planning, no plot lines, no smelly herring dyed the colour red? What you on about, B. J.? Have you lost your mind! You’re down a quart. Go top up your glass.”

You’re right. *Topping up my glass🍸*

A great idea is not enough. Walk to that rec room, hit your brand spankin' new bar, pour two fingers of something strong, and on your way there swipe some coloured soap from the guest bath — you know, the dusty, stinky frou-frou soap made in the shapes of seashells nobody in their right mind will ever touch —

and start writing a story outline on the wall. Yes, you read me right. The wall. Any wall will do. One of the four which surround you now. 

What, you think paper is more logical, more reasonable...



Thank you. Was that so hard?

Draw a bunch of squares — noooo, not your parents, silly — boxes, and inside each describe a different scene of your book. Take a hack saw and saw out each—

"Uh, excuse me…,” *You raise your hand.*

“Yes?” *I look over at you, annoyed…*

“Sawing walls?”


Fine. Take cell phone photos of each soap doodled scene and go back upstairs. Now, you’re ready to write.

Put your cocktail glass on said napkin, lay your cell down by your side, and begin hacking out Chapter One. Entitle it “The Reaping.”

“Why? That’s not the title of this chapter,” you say.


“But my book is about a rubber robot who is a second cousin twice removed from the green Gumby doll [Gumby doll, you ask? GOOGLE IT!] who falls in love with an oil filter from a 1970 Pontiac GTO,” you say.

“Entitle the flippin’ chapter ‘The Reaping’!

As I leave, in disgust, to fill a kiddie pool full of Mermaid Water ’cause one glass to protect me from you is now not enough:

I will endeavour to recover from your ineptitude. How to Become a Published Drunk will continue once I slurp up what I’m wading in...🍸


Chapter Four — The Edit

You freakin’ DID IT!

You bloody well nailed that Mother!

The Draft is DONE! You do the Dance of Joy!

The finished draft, duffus…not the dang book!

That’s like saying I climbed to the top of Mt. Everest by buying a back pack at Mountain Equipment Coop. Pathetic!

Now, you’re faced with The Edit. The Freddie Krueger slice, dice and julienne attempt at prosaic genius!


A mere 50 bottles ain’t gonna cut it now, boy! You’re in for a world of hurt, a kind of screamin’, cryin’, cursor cussin’, page tearin’ hurt.

The excruciating torture will begin with the first sentence and not subside until you either die of exhaustion in your desk chair at a quarter to four in the dawning a.m. or you reach the words, “The End.” Either way, the finality will come with psyche annihilation, leaving you void of all feeling and raped of all dignity.

 Did I mention it’ll be bad?

Very…very bad…

Okay then. Brace thyself! Pour another drink.🍸


Wait! No!

Don’t lose hope!

There’s an upside. 

[Insert pregnant pause, elucidated by a bunch of white space and a semicolon with no real purpose here >>> ; ]

Hell no! Just joshin’ ya. There’s no upside. Why do you think polished writers polish off 26ers by the truck full? What, you think pro hacks are birthed right out of the gate all erudite and exuding literary awe, their cravats nicely ironed and starched by angelic maids?

You silly, silly newbie, you. Just when I thought we were getting somewhere…

It takes LIQUID COURAGE to face your words, know they’re crap, and make like a serial killer with a razor-sharp machete.

But, if you persevere, hang onto the edge of your desk when you hit Select All then punch Delete, your sobs will subside long enough that you’ll be able to crawl down to your newly built bar and cry anew in your umpteenth ice cold beer.

Then a thought…

...a glimmer of hope, joy even...

...casting its light upon you like the tiny heart that grew bigger in the mean, old Christmas Grinch…


You’ll see through the letter destruction and realize there IS a kernel of genius left living among those ravaged pages!

You rush back upstairs, stumbling twice — your blood alcohol twice the limit — and you witness a warm glow pulsating from your screen. 

You have achieved perfection. You figuratively crawled your way up Everest and looked into the face of the Word God, and by golly, He smiled back at you! 

Happy Endings do exist! 

The world is one. Peace at the center… 

[Again, pregnant pause punctuation, a pathetic attempt at manufactured suspense with little to no foreshadowing… how lame… >>> ; ]

Peace-posh! You’re full of poo! The fat lady hasn’t bellowed yet.

Now enters the Publishing Demon [insert big scary baritone moan here].

He rears his ugly head and slithers into your office like a vermin scourge.

There ain’t no peace ’til you Publish, you pie-eyed, pitiful playwright!

Fill that pitcher. You’re down a quart.


And lastly, but not soberly…

Chapter Five — The Submission


So you think you’re done.
So you think your work is the best thing since Star Trek’s split infinitive.
How could it not be, right?

I mean, your idea, your imagination, your skill at the literary Shock & Awe is right up there with invading Iraq — and we all know how well that went. The WORLD will be begging for your book. That’s a given.

Uh huh…

*a very long, very uncomfortable silence, the aforementioned pregnant pause killed in its sleep…*

If I were you, I’d carve out the pages of a real book, stuff your book pages into the hole, close the book, replace it on your shelf and apply your title with duct tape to the book spine. Now, your book is a book and all without that embarrassing rejection and messy suicide scene.

Or, like these good hacks below, you could make lemonade out of your literary lemons…


This, my furry wittle unpublished hacker is where the booze meets the mix — pun most likely intended.

Alcohol takes the edge off the biting reality that is the publishing industry, and it facilitates a constant flow of grandiose thoughts that at Last Call have you looking good, your words divine. (The people who make bottles of liquor called Writers Tears gave up long ago on their Great American novels and are now carousing around the Florida Keys on yachts far too pricey for even Jay Gatsby, the flotilla purchased from those distillery profits, and not from one punched out word upon paper.)

But you, no, not you. You are on this writing trek for the Art, for the selfless toil, for the joy-sucking angst, to live your life alone, lonely and chemically dependent, utterly buzzed in the unending effort to create one crystal clear, culturally changing chronicle.

It’s not that you’ve always hated yourself and every word you’ve ever plunked down, I’m sure… I mean, why do for yourself when agents and editors can do for you, right?

If it ain’t fixed, don’t break it.
It’s no fun until someone loses an eye.

Perverted sayings like these now make sense to you, and only you.

Rest assured, ol’ boozy one, rejection has made you who you are today: a well-publicized DRUNK... with not one respectable word in print. It was your life’s goal after all, and by golly, you did it!

You are now encouraged to pass out on your empty bottle laurels!

The End