I'm still in Montana enjoying the big sky and cooler weather. While I've been away, Coming Clean entered the world. You can pick up your copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Givington's, or wherever books are sold. In the meantime, today I'm sharing this piece I wrote for addiction.com on the the connection between drinking, sobriety, and creative writing. Enjoy.
Hi. My name is Seth Haines. I am a writer. I am an alcoholic.
There could be no truer way to begin a piece on the intersection of writing and addiction unless I were to confess that, on par, I have an addictive stripe that runs as true and as hot as the Mississippi River. Alcohol? Yes. Words? Yes. Any old thing? Perhaps.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a taste for language. My mother was a literature teacher at the local junior high, and she taught me the power words wield in poetry and prose. I took her message to heart, playing with words from an early age. I stretched language like taffy, spun words together like cotton candy. I sold my first short story at the age of 11 to Jenna Kohler on the playground for 25 cents. It was a piece about the resurrection of frogs in the final days of the world’s spin-cycle. It remains, to this day, some of my best work.
My taste for alcohol developed at a later age. I imbibed for the first time after my 21st birthday — a modest two bottles of banquet beer — and in the years following, eased my way into a penchant for liquor. The more I drank, the more I discovered that either God or my family tree, depending upon your view of the world, had gifted me with a strong German tolerance. It was a fortuitous discovery, if not an epiphanic one, and in it, I became a most accomplished drinker.
I cannot point to the moment when I began to combine drinking and writing. When did I put whiskey and words into a shaker with cracked ice and cocktail them together? I do not recall. But in the years leading up to my sobriety, I wrote articles, poetry and what I’d like to call the Great American Novel (which remains unpublished on my computer desktop), all under the influence. Alcohol became jet fuel for the creative fire. It was the medium for the muse.