Book Launch Party

FeaturedBook Launch Party

“In That Number” Book Launch hosted by Skyline Village Chicago via zoom, Oct 21, 2020, 4:00 pm Chicago time with NPR/WBEZ reporter Monica Eng. Register here

Cousin Barb Violi, Omaha Nebraska

In another world and time uncertain, we’d be having a rip-roaring party at Half Sour in Chicago’s South Loop hosted by Beth Finke and Mike Knezovich. Iliana Genkova would pass around campaign-like buttons and cookies with the name of my book tattooed on top. We’d all be happy, joyous and free for a few brief hours away from the worries of the world.

Sigh. We’ll have to settle for a Zoom Book Launch. Please pull up your own refreshments and join us. Monica Eng has graciously agreed to lead the discussion for my book. You’ve heard her reporting on Curious City (most recently about rats!), Thursdays on WBEZ’s “All Things Considered”.

I’ve always wanted to be a published author but I never dreamed my writing would be so well received outside of a small circle of friends and fellow writers. I’m truly humbled. Thank you for reading my book and paying such generous compliments to me in person, on email and text, Face Book and Twitter and Zoom, and even a card in the mail!

A particular thank you to those who’ve encouraged me to compile years worth of 500-word essays from memoir writing classes into a book. It was a harder task and a longer trip than I imagined but well worth the effort. If you’re a writer, keep laying down those words. There’s power in the story. If you’re not a writer, thank you for supporting us; allowing us to make mistakes, grow weary, and to brag when we find that one perfect word for that one perfect sentence in that one perfect paragraph. 

Allow me to share my joy with you through a smattering of quotes. In order not to embarrass anyone, I’ve kept most anonymous. 

See you October 21!

  • I passed two days immersed in your life story. I identified with so many places and events. I am 100% with you on the last paragraph on page 246.
  • The beauty and skill of every page, and the achievement of presenting your life story of engaging encounters is thrilling. That’s what made me want to read it all.
  • Helloooooo, It’s incredible. Who knew our white-haired “older” friend had such an XXX-rated past? I await the movie!!
  • It’s a great book about a great woman!
  • My dog wants to know why I get so absorbed in Regan Burke’s terrific book “In That Number.” But it’s easy to get caught up in this fascinating memoir of life, love, addiction and local and national politics.
  • …a work as sui generis as Regan Burke herself. I have a feeling that we’ll look back on this event as more than a book launch – more like an opus launch, with much more to come after this one!
  •  It’s a fantastic memoir about alcoholism and politics, family and recovery, from a woman who’s met everyone from Bill Clinton to Vladimir Putin. (And Rick Perlstein says it’s great.)
  • My husband read your introduction out loud to me last night. So well written –you had to get a lot into that  short intro. “Want me to read the whole book to you?” He offered, “you know I could.” He hasn’t offered to read a book out loud to me in decades. Can’t say that I blame him: when he used to read to me, I’d fall asleep, often without him knowing. There he’d be, diligently working to read out loud, take a brief look up and…zzzzzz. He must feel confident I won’t sleep through this one. He’s right..  
  • Pot brownies at her sister’s wedding. 🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂. I’m enjoying this book. It’s so well written.
  • This story is appealing to many different groups.  It’s a redemption story, a woman’s empowerment story, an AA story, a friendship story, a political struggle story,  a “how I did it,” story,  a slice of baby boomer history and Rock-in-roll , and  a special Chicago/Illinois-political tales story all wrapped up in one book.
  • This is a beautiful wonderful story about a smart strong woman who faced all kinds of adversity and succeeded and built deep friendships.  Also the context of a couple of decades (yikes, we’re talking decades) is fun.  There are so many parallels between the 60s/70s and now.  It’s a story that has all sorts of resonating themes.
  • Am so delighted with this book – she is a brilliant writer and its a brilliant story of a life so well lived despite all the huge odds – the whole world should know. 
  • Who will like this book: 1. Anyone who likes Allan Sorkin shows, and Primary Colors. 2. Aging boomers who like the music, and a brief recount of early early political activists. 3.  AA members 4. Democrats 5. Every Democratic political junky in or formerly from Chicago/Illinois  6. Gary Hart and Bill/Hilary Clinton supporters 7.  Dead Heads and vintage rock-n-rollers 8. Every person who likes heros who survived struggles and find purpose (half of the best sellers list is this theme). 9. Anyone who’s been to Bahamas, Barcelona, Chicago, Dupont Circle, the Capital, the White House! 
  • I am on the second chapter and have many superlatives to expend— she is a wonderful writer, sharp, fun, exacting, goes to the heart of the matter.
  • I’m so enjoying this book.  I have to use a magnifying glass to read it.  I really laughed at the lima bean story. My kids didn’t like them either. But I told them I had spent hours stuffing peas with mashed potatoes.
  • Masterfully written, this memoir takes you on a true adventure – it starts with an eventful childhood, through the ups and downs of youth, the dealings with alcohol, drugs and religion, to making it to the highest echelons of politics. In That Number is inspirational and moving. Loved it! This is a book you must read, and you will read it in one go!
  • What a life’s story! I smiled, gasped, whimpered, and rejoiced as I traveled with Regan though her extraordinary life.
  • I love her writing style. She writes with intimate detail, intelligence, wit, and profound insight. Plus, it is a book for our present moment. I highly recommend “IN THAT NUMBER”.
  • “I could not put down this memoir. It is a tale of redemption and rebirth. Regan Burke writes of all the pain of growing up the daughter of two alcoholics and well-dressed grifters ‘who didn’t pay their bills, lied, and cheated, but still had cocktails and hors d’oeuvres every night before dinner.’ Her story is that of the Baby Boomer generation: from sex, drugs, and rock and roll, to various political campaigns in Illinois, and finally to the Clinton White House and beyond. In That Number is a touching narrative of survival, loyalty, and compassion from a woman who has seen it all.” – Dominic A. Pacyga, author of Chicago: A Biography
  • “I highly recommend this wise and wonderful memoir about politics, about families, and the politics of families. Reagan writes like an angel-and sometimes, even better, like the devil.” – Rick Perlstein, best-selling author of Nixonland and Before the Storm
  • “Regan’s unmitigated honesty in In that Number serves as inspiration and challenges each of us, even in the face of adversity, to live, see the birds, and reach higher for ourselves and our communities every day, and in every way we can.” – Laura Schwartz, White House Director of Events for President Clinton, and author of Eat, Drink and Succeed
  • “Tales of early life with a flim-flam father, Woodstock years of drugs and alcohol, and working in Bill Clinton’s administration…Regan Burke weaves her life story in a refreshing, artful, and oftentimes witty style that endears readers to the author and leaves us wanting more. What will she do next?” – Beth Finke, author of Writing Out Loud: What a Blind Teacher Learned from Leading a Memoir Class for Seniors
  • I was so happy to receive your book. I read it within a week, maybe too quickly, excited to follow your narrative and really enjoying the flashes of recognition as I came across pieces I remember from classes at CLL. So much great writing in these pages. I also love the way your writing journey bookends the story and serves as inspiration for readers—the Epilogue leaves us on such an uplifting note. I’ll be thinking of you and hoping your book-debut experience is as joyful and satisfying as it can be. Congratulations again on the results of all your hard work. I think you did an amazing job! – Linda Miller, Teacher, Memoir & Creative Writing, Center for Life & Learning, The Clare and Newberry Library

Book Launch Party

Book Launch Party

“In That Number” Book Launch hosted by Skyline Village Chicago via zoom, Oct 21, 2020, 4:00 pm Chicago time with NPR/WBEZ reporter Monica Eng. Register here

Cousin Barb Violi, Omaha Nebraska

In another world and time uncertain, we’d be having a rip-roaring party at Half Sour in Chicago’s South Loop hosted by Beth Finke and Mike Knezovich. Iliana Genkova would pass around campaign-like buttons and cookies with the name of my book tattooed on top. We’d all be happy, joyous and free for a few brief hours away from the worries of the world.

Sigh. We’ll have to settle for a Zoom Book Launch. Please pull up your own refreshments and join us. Monica Eng has graciously agreed to lead the discussion for my book. You’ve heard her reporting on Curious City (most recently about rats!), Thursdays on WBEZ’s “All Things Considered”.

I’ve always wanted to be a published author but I never dreamed my writing would be so well received outside of a small circle of friends and fellow writers. I’m truly humbled. Thank you for reading my book and paying such generous compliments to me in person, on email and text, Face Book and Twitter and Zoom, and even a card in the mail!

A particular thank you to those who’ve encouraged me to compile years worth of 500-word essays from memoir writing classes into a book. It was a harder task and a longer trip than I imagined but well worth the effort. If you’re a writer, keep laying down those words. There’s power in the story. If you’re not a writer, thank you for supporting us; allowing us to make mistakes, grow weary, and to brag when we find that one perfect word for that one perfect sentence in that one perfect paragraph. 

Allow me to share my joy with you through a smattering of quotes. In order not to embarrass anyone, I’ve kept most anonymous. 

See you October 21!

  • I passed two days immersed in your life story. I identified with so many places and events. I am 100% with you on the last paragraph on page 246.
  • The beauty and skill of every page, and the achievement of presenting your life story of engaging encounters is thrilling. That’s what made me want to read it all.
  • Helloooooo, It’s incredible. Who knew our white-haired “older” friend had such an XXX-rated past? I await the movie!!
  • It’s a great book about a great woman!
  • My dog wants to know why I get so absorbed in Regan Burke’s terrific book “In That Number.” But it’s easy to get caught up in this fascinating memoir of life, love, addiction and local and national politics.
  • …a work as sui generis as Regan Burke herself. I have a feeling that we’ll look back on this event as more than a book launch – more like an opus launch, with much more to come after this one!
  •  It’s a fantastic memoir about alcoholism and politics, family and recovery, from a woman who’s met everyone from Bill Clinton to Vladimir Putin. (And Rick Perlstein says it’s great.)
  • My husband read your introduction out loud to me last night. So well written –you had to get a lot into that  short intro. “Want me to read the whole book to you?” He offered, “you know I could.” He hasn’t offered to read a book out loud to me in decades. Can’t say that I blame him: when he used to read to me, I’d fall asleep, often without him knowing. There he’d be, diligently working to read out loud, take a brief look up and…zzzzzz. He must feel confident I won’t sleep through this one. He’s right..  
  • Pot brownies at her sister’s wedding. 🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂. I’m enjoying this book. It’s so well written.
  • This story is appealing to many different groups.  It’s a redemption story, a woman’s empowerment story, an AA story, a friendship story, a political struggle story,  a “how I did it,” story,  a slice of baby boomer history and Rock-in-roll , and  a special Chicago/Illinois-political tales story all wrapped up in one book.
  • This is a beautiful wonderful story about a smart strong woman who faced all kinds of adversity and succeeded and built deep friendships.  Also the context of a couple of decades (yikes, we’re talking decades) is fun.  There are so many parallels between the 60s/70s and now.  It’s a story that has all sorts of resonating themes.
  • Am so delighted with this book – she is a brilliant writer and its a brilliant story of a life so well lived despite all the huge odds – the whole world should know. 
  • Who will like this book: 1. Anyone who likes Allan Sorkin shows, and Primary Colors. 2. Aging boomers who like the music, and a brief recount of early early political activists. 3.  AA members 4. Democrats 5. Every Democratic political junky in or formerly from Chicago/Illinois  6. Gary Hart and Bill/Hilary Clinton supporters 7.  Dead Heads and vintage rock-n-rollers 8. Every person who likes heros who survived struggles and find purpose (half of the best sellers list is this theme). 9. Anyone who’s been to Bahamas, Barcelona, Chicago, Dupont Circle, the Capital, the White House! 
  • I am on the second chapter and have many superlatives to expend— she is a wonderful writer, sharp, fun, exacting, goes to the heart of the matter.
  • I’m so enjoying this book.  I have to use a magnifying glass to read it.  I really laughed at the lima bean story. My kids didn’t like them either. But I told them I had spent hours stuffing peas with mashed potatoes.
  • Masterfully written, this memoir takes you on a true adventure – it starts with an eventful childhood, through the ups and downs of youth, the dealings with alcohol, drugs and religion, to making it to the highest echelons of politics. In That Number is inspirational and moving. Loved it! This is a book you must read, and you will read it in one go!
  • What a life’s story! I smiled, gasped, whimpered, and rejoiced as I traveled with Regan though her extraordinary life.
  • I love her writing style. She writes with intimate detail, intelligence, wit, and profound insight. Plus, it is a book for our present moment. I highly recommend “IN THAT NUMBER”.
  • “I could not put down this memoir. It is a tale of redemption and rebirth. Regan Burke writes of all the pain of growing up the daughter of two alcoholics and well-dressed grifters ‘who didn’t pay their bills, lied, and cheated, but still had cocktails and hors d’oeuvres every night before dinner.’ Her story is that of the Baby Boomer generation: from sex, drugs, and rock and roll, to various political campaigns in Illinois, and finally to the Clinton White House and beyond. In That Number is a touching narrative of survival, loyalty, and compassion from a woman who has seen it all.” – Dominic A. Pacyga, author of Chicago: A Biography
  • “I highly recommend this wise and wonderful memoir about politics, about families, and the politics of families. Reagan writes like an angel-and sometimes, even better, like the devil.” – Rick Perlstein, best-selling author of Nixonland and Before the Storm
  • “Regan’s unmitigated honesty in In that Number serves as inspiration and challenges each of us, even in the face of adversity, to live, see the birds, and reach higher for ourselves and our communities every day, and in every way we can.” – Laura Schwartz, White House Director of Events for President Clinton, and author of Eat, Drink and Succeed
  • “Tales of early life with a flim-flam father, Woodstock years of drugs and alcohol, and working in Bill Clinton’s administration…Regan Burke weaves her life story in a refreshing, artful, and oftentimes witty style that endears readers to the author and leaves us wanting more. What will she do next?” – Beth Finke, author of Writing Out Loud: What a Blind Teacher Learned from Leading a Memoir Class for Seniors
  • I was so happy to receive your book. I read it within a week, maybe too quickly, excited to follow your narrative and really enjoying the flashes of recognition as I came across pieces I remember from classes at CLL. So much great writing in these pages. I also love the way your writing journey bookends the story and serves as inspiration for readers—the Epilogue leaves us on such an uplifting note. I’ll be thinking of you and hoping your book-debut experience is as joyful and satisfying as it can be. Congratulations again on the results of all your hard work. I think you did an amazing job! – Linda Miller, Teacher, Memoir & Creative Writing, Center for Life & Learning, The Clare and Newberry Library

Shutdown Week 9: Dream Time

Shutdown Week 9: Dream Time

A navy blue velvet shirt arrived in the mail from J.Crew the other day. Thinking it was a gift, I rummaged through the packaging for a hint of who sent it. Turns out I had backordered it ages ago, when I was going places. Blue velvet would have been lovely for my book launch in March, 2020.

But.

The publisher recently told me the book will be on Amazon by October. Then in a surprise move last week he posted on Instagram:

Tortoise Books: We are launching IN THAT NUMBER by @reganchicago THIS OCTOBER! It’s a thrilling and heartwarming memoir about one woman’s journey from the streets of protest to the halls of power, with fascinating firsthand reminisces about Woodstock, Vladimir Putin, THE EXORCIST, Bill Clinton, and more! Stay tuned for details.

I guess the Amazon availability triggered the book launch. But what do I know? The answer is—nothing about publishing or marketing a book. My completed memoir, fully edited, trussed and ready for prime time left my control in December 2019. I dreamed of the day I would stand in front of a crowd of friends in late winter at my book party.

At the party I’d be showered with compliments, jeter des fleurs, as the French say. I’d hold my book overhead and shout, “I did it.” I must have ordered that forgotten velvet shirt at the time to celebrate crossing the finish line. The coronavirus didn’t stop InThatNumberPhotomovement on publishing, but the shutdown slowed incoming blurbs for the book cover. Reviewers must have cast my manuscript into the suspended-indefinitely heap. I stopped asking the publisher or even wondering “when will it be out?” for the same reason. Everything else in the world came to a halt, why not book printing?

Here’s what I’ve learned ambling along book-publishing lane. These apply to unknown authors only:

1.  A full length memoir is no more and no less than 250 pages, Times New Roman, double spaced, 12-point type, 60,000 words.

2.  Non-fiction titles should be five words or less.

3.  When you tell people you wrote a book, they’ll ask you what it’s about. Have a good answer.

4.  Dreaming up chapter titles is a monumental waste of time. Just number them.

5.  However long you think it will take to get your finished work published, it takes longer.

6.  Even though a full length memoir is episodic, it needs an arc or storyline.  You can’t just put all your 500 word essays in chronological order.

7.  The first time your editor sends edits, it’s not really edits. It’s questions.

8.  Learn to deal with jealousy.

The Chicago Reader headline this week screams, The Summer That Won’t Be. You know what they can add to that list?  My book launch. Visions of myself as a published author is alive beyond the still point though, squiggling around in dream time.

If the coronavirus still spooks us in October my book will launch on Zoom. Look for me in blue velvet throwing flowers at myself.

Jeter des fleurs.

 

Tracking Changes

Tracking Changes

A few years ago I completed a course on “writing away” chronic pain. The workbook, Unlearn Your Pain, asked me to consider: “if there were any particularly stressful or traumatic events in your childhood.” If I answered yes to that little ditty, my next assignment was to: “Describe any of the following: deaths, moves, bullying, taunting, teasing, emotional or physical abuse, changes in school situations, conflicts with teachers, or changes in family situations.” 

Every time I finished a paragraph, pain slipped away not only from the sciatica ripping th
down my leg but also from the stenosis at the base of my backbone that had been squeezing the life out of the nerves in my spinal canal. The pain relief from these writing exercises accumulated, and when I added a daily dose of meditation and weekly feldenkrais (moving meditation), the pain withdrew completely.

No painkilers. No surgery.

The treatment ran its course and I became addicted to writing the way some chronic pain sufferers become addicted to opioids. That was the beginning.

I found myself in a fifty-five and older memoir writing group scared to death that I didn’t belong. I’d assumed everyone in the group was a published author and they only let me join to fill an empty seat. The first day I came with no writing of my own and listened to stories about the family cat, road trips to the West and baking cookies with Grandma. Was this memoir writing? My stories were about an alcoholic family that turned out alcoholic children. I had no fond memories of family vacations or beloved family pets. I slid down the hall out of the classroom. A class member caught up to me and urged me to come back. 

“I can’t write like that,” I said, “my writing is too dark.”

”You can write any way you want. It’s your story to tell,” she said.

I went back, wrote my own stories and heard my words fall loosely on the table in front of me. Shame kept me from lifting them up and out. Pain relief continued at a more dramatic pace as I wrote and shared stories of my distressed childhood. A year or so in, my words managed to reach across the table to the writing teacher, then to Veronica, then down one side and up the other. I created my own blog and posted my weekly writing for public view. Public! Readers wrote important words in the comments, encouraging, wanting more. More! 

“You should write a book,” friends said.”

 “A book? Never thought of it,” I said.

And then I did.

Writing teacher Beth Finke included one of my stories in her memoir, Writing Out Loud. When I submitted a writing sample to Tortoise Books, the publisher emailed, “I heard you read your story from Beth Finke’s book at the Book Cellar. Send me your manuscript.” Manuscript? I had written 500 words a week for four years but I didn’t have a manuscript. I asked for help. 

From. 

Anyone. 

Willing. 

Beth told me to go to a hotel room and spread all my stories out then pick them up one by one and number them in chronological order. “Then you’ll have a manuscript,” she said.

The hotel compilation worked. Using Jerry-the-Editor’s notes, I revised, deleted and rewrote. He’s tracking his final changes onto my pages now. The end is near.

Writing the Body with Beth Finke

Last Friday night author Beth Finke and I participated in an event called “Body Language—Reading and Discussions about Writing the Body.”The event was held at Access Living, a non-profit advocacy organization in Chicago that delivers programs and services to people with disabilities.

As a writer in one of Beth’s memoir-writing classes, I’m included in her latest book, Writing Out Loud. The book tells Beth’s story about teaching memoir to older adults, and I gladly accepted the invitation to get on stage with Beth and interview her about her writing and teaching. After introductions, I asked some of the obvious questions most people want to know:

  • What was it like to get fired from your job when you lost your sight?
  • How did you get started leading memoir-writing classes?

The shocker came when I asked, “What other jobs have you had since going blind?” Beth answered by “reading” a passage from her book about auditioning to pose in the nude for an art class. She pulled out a phone-size gadget with her passage teed up, put in earplugs and flipped the switch that talked the words in her ear as she perfectly mouthed these words out loud to the audience:

My robe was still on when I backed up to the table and hitched myself up. Crouching down, I felt the tabletop’s edges to be sure I wouldn’t fall off, then stood up and unbuttoned my robe.

I’d been told to strike six poses, eventually ending up in a reclining position. Had I been able to see that first model do her audition, I might have had a better idea of what was expected. I was suddenly so concerned with coming up with six different poses that I forgot I was naked.

I posed.

The department must have been pretty desperate for models, especially ones middle-aged or older and willing to work mornings. Most models are students who liked sleeping in.

I passed the audition.

Access Living is a leading force in the national disability advocacy community. The audience included people from their extensive list of volunteers, clients, personal assistants, board members and friends. Executive Vice President Jim Charlton even brought students from his classes at the University of Illinois Institute on Disability and Human Development.

Next up after Beth’s interview was a reading from artist Riva Lehrer’s upcoming memoir, Golem Girl. Riva read a riveting account from her magnificently written manuscript about growing up at the Condon School for Crippled Children in Cincinnati. A slide show moved from photo to photo behind her as she read. It showed lovely old black and white yearbook pictures of the school, the students and the teachers.

Riva works at Access Living, is an adjunct professor in Medical Humanities at Northwestern University, and was born with spina bifida. Her paintings focus on physical and cultural representations of hers and others disabilities. Golem Girl will be published by Penguin/Random House next year.

The most startling part of the evening came as questions from the audience started flying. An audience member said she’d read Beth’s book Writing Out Loud and asked if she was writing another. Jessica said she writes, too and asked if Beth ever would start a class for younger people near where she lives, in Skokie. Then, Kapow! Someone asked Riva how she was able to accomplish so much after being ridiculed relentlessly as a child because of her disability.

“I’ve been called crip, gimp, freak, retard, midget, you-name-it,” she acknowledged. “In the Condon school, because we all had something, I felt safe, not so different. Outside of school I was always scared.”

She said that when she first started working alongside so many other people with disabilities at Access Living, she felt safe at work like she always had at school. “I was afraid to go out the door at the end of the workday.” She credited Susan Nussbaum, her friend and colleague at Access Living, for helping her navigate the outside world. “You just have to rely on others.”

fullsizeoutput_3e71
Jessica, Beth Finke and Whitney

Afterwards I walked around the room to chit-chat. When I returned to Beth she was leaning into Jessica showing her how to work the reading gadget so Jessica, who uses a wheelchair and has limited sight, could read her own stories out loud to her own audience.

Just before we left, Beth’s guide dog, Whitney, uncharacteristically stood up and lifted her head high enough for Jessica to pet her.

 

Thank You Alcoholic Writers

After my first few writing sessions in Beth Finke’s Memoir Writing Class, I asked her why there weren’t more stories about alcoholism. It seemed I was the only one reporting on this particular form of family madness in our weekly writing group. Beth assured me that alcoholism has been a common theme in several of her memoir writing classes over the years.

Ok, so that helped, to know that I’m not the only one. As an alcoholic myself who grew up with two alcoholic parents, I always start from a position of feeling like I don’t belong, like I’m too different to belong. The stigma of alcoholism and addiction doesn’t help. I’ve been sober for 42 years and I still feel like it’s a shameful condition, even after years of knowing it’s a medical condition, a mind-body disease.

Last week Beth sent me an essay by author Leslie Schwartz whose latest memoir is about her relapse and jail time. She writes, “In my case, addiction and the mental illness that 51MsewjwbIL._AC_US218_ 2
follows has been one source of my creativity for a long time. I was able to use my experience of relapse and its devastating outcomes – I nearly lost my life – as fodder for my memoir The Lost Chapters: Finding Recovery and Renewal One Book at a Time.”

Leslie spent her 37-day jail time immersed in reading the work of fellow writers who suffered from alcoholism/addiction (Raymond Carver, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Wolff). She studied the recent research about the link between mental illness and creativity by Nancy Andreasen and Kay Redfield Jamison. Plenty has been written about expressive writing as a form of release from mood disorders—James Pennebaker, Dr. Howard Schubiner and others. Indeed, the Fourth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 steps suggests writing a “searching and fearless moral inventory” as a way to shake the yoke of guilt and shame. It works. After writing a few Fourth Steps, I continue to write memoirs to be free from the chronic pain of fibromyalgia as prescribed by Chicago doctor John Stracks. It works for that too.

I love that Leslie Schwartz uses the words “addiction” and “mental illness” interchangeability in her essay.  “When I write, I feel sane,” she writes. “When I don’t write, I am lost.”

We desperately need addiction/alcoholism and mental illness to be thought of in new ways. Senator Ted Kennedy’s son Patrick (the one who very publicly slammed his car into the U. S. Capitol under the influence), founded the Kennedy Forum in an effort to wipe out the stigma of alcoholism and mental health. By promoting the medical evidence verifying that alcoholism/addiction/mental illness are brain disorders, the Kennedy Forum hopes to reduce the shame induced by the stigma that keeps alcoholics/addicts from getting help, keeps teens from telling their parents, keeps employees from using their medical insurance for rehab. I’ve been sober since 1976 and it seems to me that the stigma is worse than it was 40 years ago. How do we break this? One way is for people in recovery programs like AA to stop acting like they are in a secret society and to open their meetings to those who are simply searching for information on how it works. Another way is for writers like Leslie Schwartz, Anne Lamott, Mary Karr and Brene Brown to keep writing their stories so people like me feel free to write ours.