Kicking That Can Down the Road

by | Apr 15, 2019 | Articles | 0 comments

When I started writing my upcoming novel, I didn’t have an agenda or even a plan. The story of Whizzers came about very organically, though it has roots in my own life from many years ago.

To understand how I evolved as a writer, you almost have to understand how I evolved as a person. My early years were an almost golden era of acing virtually all my schoolwork and feeling surrounded by nice people.

It wasn’t until a 1972 sledding accident and a fractured skull that I felt different, uncomfortable, and vulnerable. Couple that with growing up in a volatile householdincluding an alcoholic parentand by the time I reached early adolescence, I had some issues.

Without knowing it, I was already set up to develop a substance abuse problem of my own. But fortunately, said problem was brought to my attention at the ripe old age of 24, and I never got into trouble with the law…or anyone else, for that matter.

 

The Actual Kicking the Can Moment

In the early days of my sobriety, everything was a stunning revelation to me. I must admit, I was a bit like a stoner dude saying, “Whoa, man,” every ten minutes, even though I was now under the influence of pure reality. As some have noted, S.O.B.E.R. stands for “Son Of a Bitch, Everything’s Real!”

This was brought forcibly home to me on multiple memorable occasions, some of which actually seem funny now. Once, at a meeting, a sober relative of mine approached me and said, “This guy told me that if you ever need someone to talk to, you should give him a call.” He handed me a piece of paper with the name and number of another sober relative, and that was the moment I learned of that other relative’s recovery. More moving than funny.

One “stunning revelation” moment came when I was enraged. I don’t recall anything about why I was having such a bad day. It might simply have been the fact that I had to walk twenty minutes to take a ninety-minute bus ride to a part-time job, knowing full well I could make the same trip in about twenty-five minutes…if I had my own car. I didn’t.

Whatever the cause, I was stomping down the sidewalk, as if storming out of an argument, when my foot struck a can on the concrete. The can flew down the sidewalk ahead of me, bouncing a few times on the way. When I got to where it had landed, I realized it was a partially crushed, empty beer can.

Now, that might not sound like a profound message from God to you, but in my early days of sobrietywhen so many mind-blowing events happened on a seemingly daily basisI can tell you it felt like a warning: Slow down. Calm down. If you keep storming ahead angrily, you’re going to run right into something like…what you just kicked.

 

It’s Not Business—It’s Personal

Some of this feeling about going through stresses and strains informs my upcoming book. And in a way, it provides many kicking the can moments, though most of the truly autobiographical scenes are more challenging to the character than revelatory.

Was my moment of literally kicking a can revelatory? Probably not, and it strikes me today as funny. But in that moment, it felt like everything stopped. I calmed down. I regained my composure. And, in early sobriety, gaining or regaining composure was pretty damned important.

There are quite a few stories left to tell about times I lost it completely, but I’ll save those for another day. They’re hilarious now, but they were extremely embarrassing then.

What about you? Any tales of demented (or overawed) moments in your life, sober or not? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

ebook

Another Monday Blog Post – And a Special Offer

One of the great things about WordPress websites is the ability to schedule blog posts. So Happy Monday to you, but you're probably reading this while I'm taking my wife to DisneyWorld! Last week was "Happy New Year" time, so now we're into good old regular blog...

Who You Gonna Call? or Being Your Own Tech Support

I wrote my third novel between about 2007 and 2015. I can’t say it took a full eight years to write – I got stuck in the final third for a couple years – but it was an ambitious project. I’d gone from a third person novel to a first person novel, and now I was going...
meditation

Which Is Better For Writers – Meditation or Exercise?

A while back, I did an interview about creativity, and I talked about meditation and exercise. I also talked about a few other things like journaling, play, and being disciplined about a schedule.For writers, you might think meditation is going to be the number one...
radio shows

Radio, Radio

Normally, when I've done radio shows, it's been related to promotion of a novel, or of my novels in general. This week, it's something completely different. (If you got the Monty Python reference, kudos. If not, Google them after you read this post. Then thank me in...
Community

Is It Important to Be Part of a Community of Writers?

I just returned from a meeting of the Bay Area Professional Writers Guild, a terrific organization that brings together writers of all types to network, share resources, and provide education. It made me realize what a small world this is, as the guest speaker was...

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices...
ebook

Author Newsletters

I'll be the first to admit I am not an expert on author email newsletters. However, I believe they're important, and I try to be on top of mine every month. Today's blog post is about that. Normally I send out a newsletter to my email list each month on the 6th. Not...
travel

Travel Feeds the Soul

"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu I wish I could say I've always loved to travel. Maybe I'm good at being in a different place; the getting there is sometimes a whole other story. Traveling to a foreign locale can be...
syzygy

From The Shadow Side to the Syzygy

Anima rising, Queen of queens Wash my guilt of Eden Wash and balance me - Joni Mitchell, Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow   I’ve always enjoyed learning new words—or, as is more likely at my age, relearning words I’ve forgotten—so I was pleased to put syzygy in the...
patchworks

Patchworks: A Book Review

Today I woke to the all-too-familiar tragic news of yet another mass shooting. Sadly, we all know what will happen next: politicians will sputter, talking heads will bloviate, and the next thing that gets done about gun control will be – absolutely nothing. Such is...
self-promotion

What’s The Problem With Shameless Self-Promotion?

While I still find it somewhat hard to believe, I've been on Twitter for almost eight years. I know this not only because Twitter shows Joined March 2015 on my profile but also because, even if they eliminate that feature, I use a tracker called Who Unfollowed Me? If...
MLK

MLK Day 2023

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years....

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices...
rails

Going Off The Rails (But Not On A Crazy Train)

Last April, I wrote a blog post called Back on Track With a Work-In-Progress. Part of that post was to talk about the difference between a “plotter” and a “pantser” (and to describe myself as a hybrid of the two, a “plantser”). Another, less obvious motive, was to...
French

Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Today’s blog post was originally going to be Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. III. However, after seeing parts I and II lined up, I decided to call an audible and make it something less repetitive. Somehow the SEO gods have gotten into my head. As I’ve mentioned...
scared

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. II

In last week’s post, I mentioned a pretty well-known author who has publicly reported his publisher “wouldn’t touch” a new release, in part because a character in his novel referred to herself as “fat.” I heard this story on a podcast, and I remember thinking, “Wait...
censorship

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want

I’ve been stewing on this for a while. It’s been brewing for quite a while. I could probably write a song about it (how about a rap?), but I don’t think I will. This is more of a blog post topic, and it might even deserve a series. And that’s the title and topic of...
gratitude

Should Every Month Be Gratitude Month?

When I was a kid, I loved Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. I read it daily and collected nearly every paperback volume of the cartoon, so I could see what I’d missed since the comic strip’s inception in 1950.  Certain things stuck: quotes like “happiness is a warm puppy”...
robot

More Thoughts On Robot Writers and The Tech Dystopia

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post here called When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? Apparently, I’m fairly obsessed with this stuff, because every time I come here and empty my brain, it seems to come up again. Today is no different. Part of the reason,...