My Independent Research Project (IRP) produced on the MA Writing course at the Royal College of Art is an exploration of how romantic relationships, dating and alcohol-consumption interrelate with one another, especially in the context of my own personal life. The angle that my work has taken is looking at what I feel to be an unspoken grey area that hasn’t been written about or looked at enough in published pieces today; the grey area is this in-between of people who drink more than the recommended weekly allowance but aren’t considered ‘alcoholics’ per se. It will focus specifically on binge-drinking and how I navigated drinking alcohol since turning eighteen, which is the age people in the United Kingdom can legally drink alcohol.
What I have gathered from my research is that what’s currently out there isn’t what I want my IRP to be; most memoirs and books about alcohol that are marketed towards women that I’ve read as part of my research for this piece seem to encourage the idea that sobriety is the only solution, but I want to move away from this idea and instead just explore the effect alcohol has had, for better and for worse, in my own personal life and society at large too.
In my piece I specifically want to focus on female desire, and my own desire specifically. I want to look at why I’ve made the choices I have, why my relationship with alcohol is the way it is, and why my relationship with men is the way it is too, and how all these things inter-connect and correlate with one another.
My IRP will be fragmented, an amalgamation of more traditional essays on various subjects (self-esteem, childhood, ideas of ‘ripeness’ etc) that tie in with my wider contexts. Woven throughout this will be stream-of-consciousness style excerpts that toy with the ideas of drunken haze, hungover states, and how alcohol can affect perceptions of reality. Within these more traditional essays I have chosen and drawn upon a specific piece of art or popular culture that relates to my ideas within said essay and how it relates to the ideas I have explored and how it demonstrates said ideas in a creative way, too.
In my research I have been drawn explicitly to less conventional forms of writing, and how these can be expanded upon to make a longer form piece. Megan Nolan’s article for the Guardian entitled ‘What came first, the booze or the boys?’ has been an instrumental part of research for this work, as well as Annie Lord’s dating columns for Vogue. Maggie Nelson, Dolly Alderton and Olivia Laing are all writers that I have consistently drawn upon in terms of how they both approach writing about the personal and the self, which is what I’m doing in this piece.