Many authors have found alcohol a comfort when the words won’t come, the plot refuses to unfold and the Muse has departed. Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, Dorothy Parker come to mind. I’ve never felt the pull of a fifth of Jack Daniels, myself. Perhaps because I fall in the yeoman class, not the nobility, when it comes to writing.
Nevertheless, I well know the siren song of a Snickers bar, the clarion call of a Kit Kat, the dark promise of Dove chocolate. I’m not sure if I have a serious sweet tooth because alcoholism runs in my family, as some studies suggest, or because candy was a rare and highly prized treat in my childhood, or just because I love me some sugar. I do know given a choice between a bottle of wine or a bag of chocolate, I’m going for the chocolate.
I get that the surge of affection I feel toward a box of Godiva chocolates is hard for people who can pass by a bulk candy counter unmoved, to comprehend. Once, years ago, my sister’s husband brought her horehound drops in answer to her request for candy. For those unfamiliar with that medicinal concoction masquerading as a treat, horehound is to real candy as vinegar is to vintage wine. My sister’s response brings the term “shock and awe” to mind. Her husband remained baffled, and it was only a matter of time before that relationship had to come to an end.
It’s not that I don’t like food that’s good for me. I love fruits and vegetables and whole grains … just not as much as I love candy. I understand this is neither wise nor helpful for long-term health. So, I make regular attempts to wean myself from the influence of a really fresh box of Junior Mints, and sometimes succeed for long periods.
But when I return to my wayward ways, I take a little comfort in knowing that the consequences for this particular craving are largely confined to me. I have yet to hear of anyone who wrecked their car while driving under the influence of a Crunch bar, or failed to show up at a school play because they were holed up with some Hershey bars, or missed an important meeting because they were passed out in the candy aisle.
I’m thinking so much about candy because I’m in the thick of writing my next book, a time always of great fun, fear and frustration. I careen from days when I churn out multiple chapters, to those when hours pass with nothing happening except a few lines typed, then deleted, then the process repeated. Candy can be very comforting.
But, because the after effects of a sugar overdose are neither healthy nor happy, over the next few months I’ll be trying to reach for the carrots and celery instead of the candy. But oh, the struggle is real.