Alcohol, at the end, was my only companion, my
lover and killer both. It was me and the bottle
against life, the human race, God. I'd lost every
relationship, every friendship, every love, even
killed my talent to write, or at least sure felt like
It got to a point where it was either live or die,
go insane & give up any hope of writing again,
or somehow stop drinking, which I had no hope
of doing either. There wasn't room enough in
town for both me & booze. One of us had to go,
one of us had to be left behind.
Over 20 years of drinking & misery I brought on
myself & those I loved, but when the decision came
it was a pretty quiet event. Nothing disastrous. I just
saw with total clarity not only that that I had to stop,
if I every wanted to write again, & that I needed
help to do it.
Physically I had years left to drink I guess, but every
morning was like a little death. I was hurting everybody
around me until there wasn't anybody left around me,
to hurt or to blame.
I saw the future fitting me for a straitjacket.
Far as writing went, every night I'd tell myself I'd
have a couple drinks just to tap the spring & get the
juices going, but all I'd do was drink & produce
nothing except hermetic barely legible ravings.
When I got that help I needed & stopped drinking,
began to get connected to other folks with the
same problem, I didn't write a word for six months.
In fact, life was a dead empty bore, just exactly like
I figured it would be sober, but it was still better than
the insanity I'd been about to collapse into, so I kept
trudging along. And every once in a while found out
that I could help somebody else along the way.
At some point I started feeling a little bit better about
things, kind of slowly began re-entering the human
condition, getting aquainted with the sober me. In the
meantime, the old connection with alcohol was dying,
and I was beginning to emerge from a kind of grief.
But I couldn't see much point in living without
writing, & I still had no desire or ability to write
anything about anything. I was so used to writing
while drinking that I couldn't write without it,
even though it had been a long time since I actually
wrote anything worthwhile while drinking.
Desperate, I answered an ad & wrote TV crap with
a guy for a year or more. I hated it so much that
for the first time I could imagine enjoying writing
by myself sober. I tried it, starting with plays
& their emphasis on dialogue, something I've always
had an easy facility for. It was still too much
to ask of myself to describe a table or a landscape
to save my life. That all came back in time.
Everything came back, and better, in time.
If I hadn't stopped drinking, hadn't said goodbye to
booze, I doubt I'd be alive, much less writing anything.
I certainly would not be sane, as I am today, or at least
a reasonable facsimile of sanity, sometimes even serenity.
If I would have kept going the way I was, still
drinking & managing to be writing somehow, it would
be a bitter toxic spew that wouldn't do me or anybody
any good. And there's no way I would have ever been
able to write Mixed Animal or anything near it, with
its humor, hope, joy, wonder, & love.