Today’s post is a bit of a topic combo, if there is such a thing. What’s on my mind? Elements of a February 2019 post called No More For The Road and the March 2019 post I Survived Catholic School.

Don’t worry. I won’t repeat what’s in them. You can read them for yourself.

But here’s the thing: my upcoming novella Whizzers had some of its genesis in what I discuss in those posts.

The Anonymity Thing

I started writing the book nearly 20 years ago, I think. And it’s safe to say I struggled mightily with the idea of discussing my recovery from alcoholism in any sort of public manner, much less in a deeply personal, semi-autobiographical work of fiction.

As time marches on, though, I realize it can’t hurt me to talk about it – as long as I maintain a few personal boundaries.

So here they are:

  • I’m not a therapist or recovery professional, so I can’t advise anyone on their journey.
  • I’m not going to say I am, or ever have been, in a 12-step group of any sort. That’s implied by the character in the book, who’s a fictionalized version of me. It’s fiction, not a memoir or tell-all.
  • The autobiographical aspects are strong, but the names have not been changed to protect the innocent. I’ve got a few historical figures in there, and the usual disclaimers apply. The names of my real-life antagonists never appear.

I think that’s about it. Anyone who has a problem with what I’ve written, feel free to contact me directly. I might respond – but if I do, I won’t argue.

Catholic School + Bullying = No More For The Road?

On the combo of topics, I want to write about one thing. This was a big question for the first two or three years of my three decades of sobriety.

“Why did you drink?”

I really, really wanted to know exactly why I drank. Was it an inherited gene? Was it because of some deep dark secret I didn’t even recall, some precognitive abuse?

Alcoholics almost always want to find things to make them feel better. As I wrote in the No More For The Road post, I felt horribly hypersensitive as a young guy – never more so than when I was newly sober. It was awful, and I hated every second of it.

Consequently, I wanted to know any and all root causes for this awful disease that almost took me out.

I read the spiritual books and pamphlets, the scientific books, the not-so-scientific books. I owned a hardcover copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a.k.a. the DSM. At one point in my life, if you asked me what my hobbies were, I’d have said, “Mental health.”

So Why DID You drink?

Why indeed? I found the answer after reading and therapy and inventorying, and plenty of other work. And I’m here to tell you, it wasn’t satisfying to learn.

It didn’t matter why I became an alcoholic. What matters is what I do about it.

In my case, there was certainly a loaded genetic gun. But beyond that, I could point to plenty of incidents of abuse – including, but not limited to, the apocalyptic bullying I endured in seventh grade – and any one of those could easily have done the job.

In other words, if you had my background, you’d drink, too.

Now, I know that’s not true for everyone. Plenty of people endure horrible abuse and go on to overcompensate their way into tremendous success, all in an effort to heal their deep psychological wound.

I did a bit of that, but in the meantime, I was too steeped in getting baked to get into Harvard.

Could I have had that kind of success if I never took a drink or a drug?

Probably. The evidence from early childhood through junior high is strong. My standardized test scores were off the charts.

But the abuse broke me. And it took a good ten to twelve years of substance abuse before I found a solution. Only then could I start putting the pieces together, and become whole again.

What about you? Does your story have something in common with mine? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

kicking that can

Kicking That Can Down the Road

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...
game of thrones

3 Reasons the End of Game of Thrones is an Example of Good Storytelling

Social media is interesting: every time an artist or entertainer creates a new work, it’s going to get mixed reviews. Even in the case of a highly popular TV series like Game of Thrones, the armchair critics come out with their claws sharpened—especially when...
transcendent-origin-power

Narratives of Transcendent Origin and Power

About a million years ago, I received a gift from a fellow writer, a book called Walking on Alligators by Susan Shaughnessy. I wasn't familiar with Ms. Shaughnessy, but the book is subtitled A Book of Meditations for Writers, and it has a format similar to a lot of...
book launch

Ready to Launch Into 2019?

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I’ve shown an obsessive side lately – lots of content about my upcoming book launch. I’m releasing my fourth novel, Whizzers, in 2019. That means I’m putting a lot of emphasis on building my marketing plan well in...
Sahno

Let’s Get Personal: Why Do I Write?

I’ve been on a marketing campaign for the past couple of weeks, and missed my deadline for this blog last Monday…so I just plain skipped a week. Those of you who know me are probably a bit surprised. I’m pretty particular about getting things done on time. I’ve always...
LCCN

Do I Need A Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN)?

This week I promised to write about one of the most often overlooked items in the publishing business - the Library of Congress Control Number, or LCCN. I'm going to write about it a bit today, but my thinking on the LCCN has changed to some degree over time.According...
commercial

Strictly Commercial In SE Asia

Three weeks is not a normal lapse of time between blog posts for me. I try to blog at least once a week, anyway, but from November 9th through November 23rd, I was on my first real vacation since 2015. The destination: my wife's native Thailand. This was my fifth trip...
technophobia

Technophobia: A Writer’s Confession

To today's computer-savvy readers, "technophobia" might sound like a quaint leftover from the 20th century. You remember, right? Back in the 1980s, guys like me wrote poems of dismay about the invasion of technology into the arts. I still remember the words I penned...
Martin

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2020

Here's wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. For many of us, today is 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 seems to have taken in the last few years....

Guilt-Inducing Advice

I came across a post on Twitter today called, “The Worst Writing Advice You’ve Ever Heard.” I don’t know if I want to comment on that, but I do have something else in mind. Probably the biggest cliché writers will ever hear is a variation on Write every day. When I...