12 Aug 2014

Writers That Were Addicted to Coffee

The muse is always a serious subject for writers. It's hard to find one's writing momentum, but it's even harder to sustain it. So hip hip hooray to coffee - a thing that brings together all writers and helps them to 'stay tuned'. Caffeine is a drug with minimal drawbacks and powerful effects - it aids focus and attention, wards off sleepiness and tiredness, and speeds the refresh rate on new ideas. For many writers, coffee is a gateway to the creative mood. For example...

1. They say that Honore de Balzac used to drink enourmous amount of coffee - 50 cups a day - to maintain his crazy lifestyle. During the work periods, Balzac used to wake up at 1 a.m., write for seven hours, then take a 1,5 h nap at 8 a.m., then, from 9:30 until 4 he would work again - drinking cup after cup of black coffee. He wrote himself:
"As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move... smiles arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle."
2. Søren Kierkegaard, famous Danish writer and philosopher, had his own coffee ritual. He poured sugar into a coffee cup until it was piled up above the rim. Next he would add an incredibly strong, black coffee to slowly dissolve the white pyramid of sugar. Then Kierkegaard would gulp everything down in one go. 

3. Voltaire, apparently, was just a bit less frenzy about coffee than Balzac - only 30 or 40 cups of coffee every day (mixed with chocolate, though).

4. Gertrude Stein was also a huge fan of coffee. According to herself, coffee "is a lot more than just a drink; it's something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup."

5. Benjamin Franklin loved coffee for its little side effects. He said: "Among the numerous luxuries of the table... coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions... is never followed by sadness, languor or debility."

6. Alexander Pope enjoyed his cup of coffee before writing, too. He explained that is made him "see through things with half-shut eyes."

7. Jean Jacques Rousseau sang dithyrambs to the smell of coffee, which he adored: "Ah, that is a perfume in which I delight; when they roast coffee near my house, I hasten to open the door to take in all the aroma."

8. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was also a coffee enthusiast.

9. Jonathan Swift admitted that coffee was his 'fuel' that enabled him to write. He said: "The best Maxim I know in this life is to drink your Coffee when you can and, when you cannot, to be easy without it. While you continue to be splenetic, count upon it I will always preach. Thus much I sympathize with you that I am not cheerful enough to write, for I believe Coffe once a week is necessary to that."

10. Dave Barry, a contemporary American author and columnist: "It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity."

Coffee is a writer's best friend. Period.
And if you're merely a reader, you can still be good friends with coffee. Because, as famously declared Anthony Throllope, what can be more luxurious than a book and a cup of coffee? Nothing. Period.

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