I woke up from a hard sleep this morning – I’d been submerged in deep dreams and it was hard to shake off sleep and slide out of the warm cocoon of bedding. I somehow made it out the door and enroute to the workout class when I’d realized I had a drunk dream. Drunk dreams are a rather common phenomena in sobriety – they’re discussed in 12-step meetings and a quick google search shows that their a topic of articles and online conversation. In my dream, I’d drank a lot of something and then was like, “Oh shit. Well. I’m still going to claim my 16 plus years – even though I’ve been drinking intermittently throughout them. Oh wait – that’s wrong.” Basically, these dreams are stressful.
I think I had a drunk dream because earlier this week, I read a Facebook status of someone who’d knitted together a week of sobriety one day at a time. I want everyone who wants to be sober to stay that way – the beginning is hard and the fact that this person wrote of their beginning is brave and vulnerable AF. If you attend a 12-step meeting, this is referred to as “claiming your seat” and you better hold onto that fucker tight. Only about a third of people who are abstinent less than a year will remain abstinent and if you can string together a year, less than half will relapse. Five years seems to be where the magic is – hang on until then and your chance of relapse is less than 15 percent (Manejwala, 2014). The 5 year stat sounds good until you realize that 15 percent of people relapse – I’ve witnessed people own this and claim their seat once again. Miracles who find their way back to folding chairs in church basements to begin once more. So I was thinking about the difficult early days. I read Dry by Augusten Burroughs and A Million Little Pieces by James Frey before ever cracking open the Big Book. And yes – I am fully aware of the James Frey debacle and you know what? I don’t care because I’m sure people read that book and were like, “Jesus Christ. If this hot mess can get his shit together, I can too.” People like me.
Recently, a longtime friend told me of a book written by Maeve Binchy titled The Maeve Binchy Writer’s Club. I’ve read and enjoyed several of Binchy’s books but I somehow had never heard of this one which is advice and information about writing and getting published. I have an expansive collection of books on this very topic and a few of my favorites are On Writing by Stephen King (sober) and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (sober). The Binchy book is ascending to a favorite.
“Binchy suggests going to the library and finding a children’s book on the subject you want to write about for research. I never thought of that!” I say.
“Yeah – that’s what that Jeopardy winner did.” Andrea replies.
“Really?!” I ask.
I hadn’t heard of this but a quick Google search confirms that 34-year old James Holzhauer did exactly that. In April of 2019, Holzhauer told the New York Times:
I have a strategy of reading children’s books to gain knowledge. I’ve found that in an adult reference book, if it’s not a subject I’m interested in, I just can’t get into it.
I was thinking, what is the place in the library I can go to to get books tailored to make things interesting for uninterested readers? Boom. The children’s section.
Huh. Because I have had a gd book idea FOR YEARS! And I haven’t done shit with it because I was like, “Well how am I going to know anything about that to write about it with some measure of accuracy?!” Which is really another excuse. Blah, blah. Binchy points out that the research is to enrich your narrative so “don’t overdo it”. Easy does it.