I'm serious. Cut that shit out. So you want to be a writer? Good for you. But you're not Hunter S. Thompson, and you're not Ernest Hemingway. You see, there's a certain school of thought amongst aspiring writers that holds that aping the mannerisms of better writers will magically reflect some of their talent onto you. It's a godawful fallacy, and it's worth noting that Hunter S. Thompson was a drug-addled sportswriter who was a pain in the arse to work with, and who never wanted to be the voice of a generation. That he became one anyway is beside the point. The point is that being a writer does not require self-destruction. You could argue that the urge to become a writer is inherently self-destructive, but cigarettes and whisky will not make you any better at it. The toothless growling of every bookshop Bukowski goes nowhere, and it's fucking irritating to listen to.
It's a reflected glory thing, I think, this fetish for the paraphenalia over the writing. It's the same sickness that makes people buy expensive notebooks, when some of the best writing of the 20th century was done on bar napkins. So. Repeat after me. I do not need a nicotine habit. I do not need a Moleskine. I do not need a typewriter. I do not need to stare at fancy paper, overpriced pencil in hand, look good, and write nothing. If you want a reason why so many writers look as if life has just punched them in the face, it's not because it makes them look cool. It's because that's how you look when you work yourself down to the bone writing. There is a certain element of sacrifice involved, and you, with your carefully-dishevelled chic, mock it.
For me, good writing should feel like heroism. It should be an act of resistance. Whether that's resistance to society, life, death, boredom, love, hate or the goddamned ice weasels is beside the point. But to take the attitude and not to have anything behind it, not to care enough to fashion your words into weapons against ignorance or perceptions or whatever, is punching at thin air. We are not, and should not be, worshippers of idols. Every revolution, in art or otherwise, has come from people with the particular mix of courage and insanity that makes you want to dynamite your idols. I for one am glad that writers steal so cynically from one another. Take each others' words and twist them, change them, slaughter them if they have to. Because the result - and in the end, that is what matters, not the process - must be something that is yours. You must give of yourself to create it, and whether you're subverting your predecessors or lionising them, each shows more thought that mindlessly parroting their ideas back. You are not Hunter S. Thompson. You are not Ernest Hemingway. You are not Audre Lorde or Charles Dickens or whoever the fuck your favourites are. It is on you to have your own voice, to hone it and craft it, and then cast it out into the world not giving a fuck who listens or not. And to keep doing that until you find yourself hoarse. And maybe by then you'll have started smoking to vent off some of the stress, or taken to drinking a particular kind of booze because you like it and it's cheap and it makes you stop thinking for just long enough to catch your breath. And if, when you do that, you see someone in a coffee shop, carefully writing fuck-all in a very nice notebook, I hope you'll understand what I mean, snatch it out of his hands, and set it on fire.