Friday Speak Out!: The Addictions of Potables and Writing

Friday, July 11, 2014
by Claudia Mundell

Many writers rely on the crutch of some addiction while writing or as solace after the writing experience. The creative works of many great American authors are linked to some strong beverage they imbibed.

Hemingway may have invented the Bloody Mary while F. Scott Fitzgerald relied on gin, with liquor often appearing on the pages of his tales. Faulkner leaned on whiskey, and Truman Capote loved pills and drink, his favorite swallow being a Screwdriver made of vodka and orange juice. Then there was Carson McCullers who often had beer after breakfast. At the typewriter she nursed a handy thermos full of hot tea with a splash of sherry. She called this concoction Sonnie Boy.

I am a drinker too, but my addiction of choice is straight, freshly brewed tea. Inspiration forms while the malty fragrance of unfolding leaves develops. While the pot or pitcher might vary throughout the day, a cup or glass of some kind is at my elbow constantly nurturing my creativity. The day begins with a strong breakfast blend that brews into a dark color, strong enough to walk on it seems. I might vary it from English, Irish or Scottish, but they all provide the shot of caffeine that stokes early morning fires in my mind. In the winter, I tote a tea pot covered in a quilted cozy to my desk with maybe a nice bone china cup to give a delicate dash to my day. In the summer, I arrange a tea tray with my classic white pot and a sturdy but colorful mug to carry to the deck. Nothing like early morning air and chirping birds to sing you into a story.

In late morning, I arise from the keyboard, stretch, and take a break from creating characters and dialogue. I head for the kitchen and choose a blend of black and green tea mixed with passion fruit or maybe a cinnamon orange with spicy kick. I pour it all over lots of ice cubes for a refreshing lift and grab a couple of cookies for some substance to hold me until lunch. After all, I need to update submissions and check email for editors’ responses before stopping work.

Evening time brings an easing back on writing. Sunset is time to reread what I have written in the morning and do a little editing. It also sets the scene for where I will go to work first thing the next morning. A nice blueberry herbal tea helps the day unwind or maybe a pot of amber shaded chamomile to induce sleep makes an agreeable ending to the day. My addiction for a robust drink while living the writing life is as strong as Hemingway’s and Capote’s, but tea is definitely my own potable of choice.

Claudia is from the Midwest and loves the prairies along with the Santa Fe, New Mexico area. She grew up in the southeastern corner of Kansas and now lives in the southwestern corner of Missouri. A retired teacher who writes fiction and poetry, she recently complicated her own life with a shepherd/border collie mix rescue dog that seems to have a case of ADD. Visit her at for thoughts on tea, books, writing and living a dog’s life.


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Sioux Roslawski said...

Claudia--I also drink tea (although probably with not the same gusto as you ;) but tea does not fuel my writing. I tend to drink lots and lots of water, which results in me having to go to the bathroom (lots and lots) which results in me having to get up frequently, which means I have time to take a break from my writing and jog my thinking.


Sioux Roslawski said...

I forgot to mention: Thanks for sharing the drinks other writers enjoyed. Carson McCullers drinking beer after breakfast? I can't even stand the taste of beer after dinner, let alone after some scrambled eggs and toast, but I LOVE Carson McCullers.

Margo Dill said...

Interesting post and interesting that a lot of these famous writers drank A LOT--hmmm. . . I love to drink red wine when I write or edit, but I can only have one or maybe two before the wine takes over and I find myself distracted and away from writing and on to Googling the Internet for my latest fascination. In the morning, I love COFFEE!!!

BECKY said...

Great post, Claudia. You're probably one of the few who doesn't need/want a little sip every now and then of something a little stronger! I love the word "potables," by the way. The first time I heard it was a LONG time ago on Jeopardy, "Potent Potables"! I had to ask whatever adult was watching TV with me to tell me what it meant! I'm surprised I wasn't told to go look it up in the dictionary! PS I know you love tea, but I never knew to what extent! I'm glad it helps you write!!

Jennifer Brown Banks said...

I'll drink to this! As a matter of fact, tea is one of my favorite "go-to" beverages in the morning. I'm drinking some Culinary Circle's Pomegranite right now! Thanks for the post.

Kay Rae Chomic said...

Fun post, Claudia. Have you tried Lapsang Souchong tea? It has a terrific smoky fragrance and tastes like a drink from Sherlock's pipe, only better:-)
Kay Rae

Elephant's Child said...

Love it. And am a tea addict myself - though not so fickle in my affections. At the moment Chai has most of my love.
Beer at breakfast time? Shudder. And I am in awe that so many writers can drink - and continue. I would have to retire to bed. Practice?

Robyn Chausse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robyn Chausse said...

I so enjoy meeting other tea lovers! I drink tea all day as well. In the winter, my favorite treat is a pot of pu-ehr with cream. In the summer it's iced tea--freshly brewed dragon pearls, a nice blend of black tea or even a glass of blackberry-sage.
I enjoy an occasional glass of red wine, but not while I'm working. I don't know how those authors ever got anything done with all that alcohol in their system!

Linda O'Connell said...

Sounds as if we have similar tastes. Whatever fuels our creativity. That was an interesting fact about Carson McCullers. I don't think I could do beer...ever, Tea, always. Great post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Claudia - The blueberry herbal sounds wonderful (I'm a blueberry-a-holic). During the day I usually drink coffee in the a.m. and water all afternoon. After hours I admit to enjoying the occasional glass of wine, though these days it is more likely to be my sleepy-time tea. :)

Lynn said...

I love chamomile in the evening for tea when I'm especially anxious, but I'm a coffee drinker in the AM as tea in the AM upsets my tummy. Weird. I liked all your facts about the other "drinkers."

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