The alcohol was necessary. Under no circumstances would I have been singing in public without it. Although this particular karaoke establishment provided private rooms where you only have to perform in front of your friends, I still required quite a bit of liquid courage, which was why the drinks were forced down my throat on the ride there. The high heels, on the other hand, were a poor choice.
It was my friend Kim’s 21st birthday, and neither of us had ever been drunk before. But once Kim figured out that she wasn’t quite ready for massive amounts of alcohol, she made sure that my cup was always full. So by the end of the night, she was helping me down the stairs because I had never been so intoxicated and was wearing five-inch heels.
As we reached the bottom of the stairs, I said: “Is it weird that I want to go home and write?”
I had been fighting off a surge of creativity all night, my fingers just itching for a notebook or keyboard. Maybe it was fueled by the alcohol or the music, but either way, I couldn’t escape that feeling inside of me, that restlessness of a new idea. On the ride home I was fighting sleep and drunkenness, but I couldn’t help myself—I was writing a paragraph in my head. I repeated each sentence over and over until I had it memorized, convinced of its perfection.
When I got home around two in the morning, first I fell on my bed, then got up, grabbed a notebook, and scribbled down the paragraph. Then I fell back into bed, not caring what sort of plot dilemma I had just created. That could wait until the morning.
To sum things up, in my book, it’s kind of necessary to the plot that the characters don’t have sex until the very end. But the paragraph I had just written threw a wrench into the whole story. In a rather uncharacteristic but powerful and emotionally vulnerable moment, my protagonist decides that he does want to take the next step with his would-be lover. I couldn’t help myself, really—I was sort of moved by the raw emotion involved with the scene. The only problem was that I had no idea how to end the scene. What could possibly change his mind besides the standard “oh no, we can’t” that occurs ten million other times in the novel? Ho hum, as Jordan would say. But I was too tired and too intoxicated to figure it out. So I went to sleep.
I still cannot fully explain what happened next. Maybe I was half asleep, half drunk, and thinking about what I had just written. Maybe I was dreaming and being led somewhere by my subconscious. I could see the setting of my book perfectly—one of the character’s apartments. My two main characters were there, too. But then there was this third guy, who wasn’t a character in anything I had written, or even someone I had seen in real life. He was just there. And then the dream was over.
I had to get up at eight that morning to head off to work, and let me just say, I don’t recommend being hung over during liquidation. I didn’t even think I was hung over, just tired and dehydrated, until someone’s small child started screaming. I couldn’t think much about the dream until later that night, when I tried expanding on the scene. I just kept thinking, who the hell was that guy?
I don’t think there was an “a-ha” moment. I just eventually came to the realization that there was a reason that I thought of this random person. How could I end this unendable scene? Well, what if this mystery man was real? Wouldn’t that be the ultimate betrayal, if you were prepared to give yourself to someone entirely, only to find that he was with someone else? That was it. Not only had I figured out how to end the scene, but I had stumbled onto one hell of a plot twist.
I don’t think this idea would have been possible without the particular combination of creativity, alcohol, and sleepiness. I would love to try it again, but I don’t think it would be possible. I guess every epiphany has its own little way of popping into my brain.