I'm not totally lazy. I have been editing my novel "Existence" for the umpteenth time since I started writing it back in 2005. My lead character is Erin Keane, an addict abruptly looking into the face of sobriety. His character hasn't evolved much since I first began writing his journal portion of the book, in number 2 pencil between the tight lines of a college ruled composition book. When I stopped drinking I started keeping a diary. (I've kept diaries throughout my life, but as my addiction progressed, the journaling became sporadic, and then the entries sporadic themselves, desperate sentences thrown together, or lonely attempts at poetry when I found myself compelled to write because I couldn't figure out how to express myself out loud anymore. Out loud expression was one of the gifts of alcohol that lured me in the beginning. Ironically, it eventually shut me up completely.) Within that personal diary of mine, in which I was able to write clearly and then honestly for the first time in fifteen years, there was so much information I wanted to express, so many facets to sobriety and the journey through it, I had to start writing in someone else's voice as well, in a separate book. That’s how Erin was born.
To quit doing something that has obsessed one's life for so long. To finally be able to stop doing that which up to a point was utterly impossible to even dream stopping, and then suddenly find yourself not doing it anymore, and then eventually not even thinking about it anymore... It's a crazy, bizarre trip, let me tell you. It's fascinating. If you don't know addiction and it has never touched your life, personally- physically or through a loved one, then it's hard to understand. I know it's hard, I tried to explain it to my father and he was a pretty open minded person, (I think my sister might state otherwise) but I couldn't get him to understand the concept of not being able to use my will-power to quit. He couldn’t comprehend that I couldn't, no matter what I tried, stop, even though the more I drank, the more miserable I became. And then, one day, I turn around and I don't do that anymore. I can't go into how it stopped, if addiction is hard to explain, consider stopping the addiction impossible to explain. I call it a miracle because really, there's no other way to describe it. There are no details I can share. It’s a very strange, awesome process that is experienced in the living. I don't know if I was able to capture it in the book I’ve written. I don’t know if that's what I wanted to do with it anyway. I think all it started out being was a vehicle to express the runoff feelings that may not have seemed personal to me anymore. At the same time, this is a very personal book.
So maybe all these times that I’ve gone into the book, diving, wading, fishing, maybe these visits have all been equally important to the book itself and to my process. Erin is sober through me, and it's important for me to represent it correctly. Getting clean and getting sober are very human processes; so much more human than addiction. I know some would disagree, like that sarcastic little voice in my head saying – no it’s the other way around – but I’m not that person anymore, and I can ignore her. It’s important for me to get the humanness of it right. We never want to create a perfect character, the blemishes are the most important part, and I want to make sure I’ve filled him proportionately to fill in those nuances, that he’s an addict and that he is becoming sober. The transformation is complicated but it’s also really subtle so it’s tricky.
The bottom line is that I'll get to it, the publishing. I want it yesterday and with as little effort on my part as possible, except for the fun part, which is the actual writing, obviously. I want it to fall from heaven without reading any extra books or writing a blog, or dipping my foot into the massiveness of the internet. I don’t want you to know who I am for Pete's sake, almost as much as I do. Almost.