Nightmare On Acid Street

by | Oct 7, 2019 | Articles | 2 comments

In my mind, I flash back to a time years ago, and the image strikes me with peculiar clarity—the dismal boarding house where I lived when I was newly sober, the shattering acid flashback with its neon cockroaches skittering across the dirty ceiling. Then, further back in the recesses of my mind, the original bad trip: bloody slashes like knife wounds leaping out from a whirl of furiously moving geometric patterns.

That night went on for days, it seemed, when I lay alone on my bed, paralyzed by the horror of it all, staring awestruck at the ceiling. In a way more real than surreal, I felt I stood on a ledge and looked down. It was the ledge of my own sanity….

At length, the patterns shifted and receded, and I was back. Closer to sanity—forever changed, if not ruined.

Whizzers, p.153

 

On the 6th of each month, I send out a monthly newsletter to my subscriber list. I’m not entirely sure how I settled on that date. Maybe it’s because my birthday is November 6th, or maybe it was just happenstance. Whatever the case, I rarely request feedback, though I often ask my readers to tell their friends and colleagues about my work.

This month, I requested some very specific feedback, in an email with the tongue-in-cheek subject line Whaddya Want From Me? I asked my subscribers what they’d like to see more of in those monthly missives.

To my surprise, I got a reply that said, Tell us a drunk tale.

Well, hell, I can do that.

 

Active Means Something Different To Me…

Like most people with long-term sobriety, I also have a bit of colorful history that preceded it. In my case, the decades of sobriety now exceed my “active” years by a factor of three to one—about 30 years sober that followed a history of around 10 years—but some of those years brought adventures that would send a chill down any parent’s spine.

The quote above, from my recent novel Whizzers, is a case in point. Filled with much more autobiographical material than my previous three novels combined, Whizzers blurs the lines between a fictional version of me who travels through time and the actual me, with many of my real-life experiences. Some date from childhood, but others include the active years.

It was July, 1986. A buddy of mine came over to my parents’ house, where I was staying alone while they vacationed in Nova Scotia. We each took a hit of LSD, and I figured we’d be in for a night of hilarity.

Unfortunately, my friend had just taken the exact same dose the previous night. So while I began to feel the effects within the hour, he got no effect. A few beers along the way, and he was ready to head home and go to sleep, whereas I knew I’d be up all night.

After my buddy went home, my girlfriend at the time stopped by. She had zero experiences with psychedelics—and would eventually add spice to her own story by “upgrading” from dating me to dating a guy who dealt coke and carried a gun—but she was worried about me.

I assured her everything was fine, don’t worry about me, and so on. But it was not an enjoyable visit. She left, and now I had a good eight to ten hours ahead of me, alone.

 

The Ultimate Buzzkill

Thinking I’d listen to some fun music, I tuned the radio into a syndicated program called “The Grateful Dead Hour.” Right at the beginning of the show, the host announced that Jerry Garcia had slipped into a diabetic coma, and then queued up the dirge-like classic Mission In The Rain.

Already feeling jangly, my state of mind slid down like a snowball rolling down a hill. Like said snowball, it went faster and grew larger as it descended. Before long, I was alone and in a state I can only describe as dumbfounded.

It wasn’t just that I was a Deadhead, or that my mood had been shaken by the disappointing experiences with my friend or girlfriend. Anyone who has ever used these types of drugs will know that they shouldn’t be taken in an uncontrolled environment. Avoid all news, don’t answer any phone calls, and for God’s sake, don’t be alone. Those were all no-brainers when it came to psychedelics.

The scene above from Whizzers is pretty accurate. I can still recall, with morbid clarity, the Freddie Krueger-like slashes that appeared in the shifting patterns on the ceiling above my bed, where I lay transfixed, utterly alone. Just riding it out, as it were.

So there you have it—a true story of surviving the bad old days. Not exactly glamorous, but then, not much of that stuff really is, at least from today’s perspective. And isn’t that really what it’s all about?

For more tales of insanity and survival, check out Whizzers online from your favorite retailers.

cost

What Books Cost Their Authors: A Tale of Blood, Sweat & Tears

…”Books that cost more to write than their sales ever could repay.”  - Alan Paton   Lately I’ve had my nose in a couple of books. One is a history book on the JFK years, the other, Alan Paton’s most famous novel, Cry, the Beloved Country.  I have a curious, even...
election

Meet The New Year—Same As The Old Year?

Looking back at the blog over the past few months, I see a few obsessions emerging. Nothing surprising there—of course we’re all suffering from pandemic fatigue, and I’m not surprised to see my worries about the 2020 election as topics. In my October 26th post, If...
slow

How Fast Is Too Fast? And How Slow Is Too Slow?

Do you crank out copy at a fast and furious rate? Or are you “the slow one,” the writer who labors over every word, phrase, or even punctuation mark? Or, even more weirdly, are you one of those writers who strikes a happy medium between racing and plodding? I must...
cover design

The Importance of Cover Design and Interior Design for Novels

I think I could be forgiven for not being an expert on either cover or interior design. After all, I studied neither in college. So I hope I'll be forgiven by anyone thinking I have expertise in these subjects. Still, in a world where employers regularly place ads...
holidays

Books: Great Holiday Gifts, or The Greatest Holiday Gifts?

I saw a cartoon the other day that features a character who's starting to sing, "It's beginning to look a lot like..." A second character quickly and quietly puts the first character down, saying, "Shh. Sleep now." Dark stuff, right? But hey, these are dark times—in...

Communication? Keep It Simple, Sweetheart

Last week’s blog post was all about business. This week, I’m still going to talk about business a little, but really it’s more about writing. And if there’s one lesson we should take to heart in writing – in fact, in all our communication – it’s Keep It Simple. Today...
newsletter

A Sneak Peek at My Latest Quarterly Newsletter—And An Invitation

Okay, I'll admit right out of the gate that this isn't really a "sneak peek." My subscribers got it yesterday. Most of what I send them each quarter is content exclusive to subscribers, but every once in a while I'll share something here as well. The following is from...

Short Story Contest

As we head into September, I'm struck by how quickly this year has flown by. I have a radio interview in two days and a book fair next month, and I'm sure there will be much more happening as I go full bore with marketing campaigns for Miles of Files, Jana, and...
arrows

Slings and Arrows, Arrows and Slings

Almost two years ago, right at the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote a blog post called Sometimes All You Can Do Is Rock With The Storm. The idea was that, hey, everyone is having a rough time right now, and we’ll likely see more rough times ahead. Knowing that life...
excellence

Literary Excellence and Why Writers Need to Be Readers

Back when I first launched my company, I often used the phrase literary excellence as part of my branding. The idea was that Sahno Publishing evolved out of the notion that literary excellence is more important than a financial formula. The company entered the...
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,...