not everything that is helpful is useful

this is an extract from an email sent to the Everything List (which is the place where i share ‘everything’ including behind the scenes reporting on writing, pictures of my lunch, how writing is like sobriety, and samples of the new fiction project).

from me: i’ve written myself into a corner with the fiction. i’ve closed  the open loops and don’t know what happens next. (this happens.)

but that has led me to “what’s the point in writing fiction anyway,” – and i don’t mean the thing i’m writing, i mean fiction in general. what’s the point of fiction? …

i’m temporarily stuck. i feel like non-fiction is more direct. “how do i deal with a husband who drinks now that i’m sober” versus “here’s a story about a woman with a husband.” maybe the lessons are still there, but maybe the vehicle of delivery is all that changes.

but if the lessons are the same, then why fiction?

i’m sure i’ll be able to write myself back to an answer to this, but today, right here and right now, i’ve lost the plot (hahahahaha). [and if writing is like being sober, then even when you lose the plot, you keep going, because – even as i say it here – i’m sure i’ll be able to find the way if i keep going.]

Quote from this week’s fiction writing:

OK, you’re up. The room – you can’t even look at the room. The hallway – you can’t even look at the hallway, the bookshelf contents on the floor, now walked through repeatedly, how long has it been. Into the kitchen, can’t really look in here, either, something in the pan on the stove, it could have been risotto (really?). You pick up and hold the takeout container close to your face, smell it, afraid, but seems fresh enough, so it probably was dinner last night after all.

It’s weird day when I wake up and it feels like I’m on an archaeological exploration in my own home. What did I do? What did I eat?

You check your phone for sent messages. Scroll …


Mich2point0 sent me this: “That’s just wolfie’S cousin- self doubt creeping in.  She’s a c-nt… kick her ass to the curb Xxoo.”

me: haha. maybe it is!  it’s just that after doing a big live call yesterday, THAT seems more ‘useful’ than fiction…

Mich2: “Lmfao!!!!! Not everything that is helpful is useful. Sometimes. I get fucking tired of self help and all that jazz. Sometimes. I want to disappear into a good book or listen to something fun or funny. Relatable.  You don’t determine what’s useful. That’s a high powers job. You. Just do what you’ve been called to do…”

*your comments make the world go round. add in your thoughts.*


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I’m not sure if this is the part you’re stuck at, but I’ve got something that might turn into something. If your character is anything like me, you just check to see if you sent any messages, you don’t actually want to know what you said. Then, I usually get onto my email to browse, not for self check. Then sometimes I search random things. You know like “why am I hungover” or “why does drinking seem so fun” etc. Maybe she could come across a sober blog….???)

  • You don’t read kids a self help book at bed time. You read them fiction so they can learn about, understand and wonder at a different world or a new type of creature or an imagined situation. All from the comfort and safety of their own bedroom. When we read fiction to ourselves we’re doing the same. Soothing. Imagining. Possibilising.

  • Why can’t sober fiction be romancey or desert island y ??
    I for one would LOVE to read about someone getting sober then ending up with an amazing life with romance etc ( I know this happens !) but you know … fiction escapy style 🙂

  • I love fiction, couldn’t live without it. The world needs fiction, all types, including sober fiction. It helps me to use my imagination, we all need to flex those muscles. There are lessons to be learned in a good story, parallels to be made between our lives and characters lives. Before there were books there have always been storytellers. It’s a way to learn and teach.
    Your character in your book is reminding me of why I stopped drinking. I woke up that same way every morning after a night of drinking, except I learned to never touch my phone after the third glass.
    Keep writing, I’ve been having fun imagining all the stuff that’s happening in between your excerpts.

    • Same for me. If I left my phone in the other room I would never go get it. I figured that out after several drunken episodes of texting random rap lyrics to ALL my friends. Thank God I didn’t have any social media! Whew!]

  • I love fiction! Life, reality, is really hard, really hard sometimes,so escaping to an island with an unbelievably handsome man or reading some paranormal fantasy or trying to figure out just where in the world Neil Gaimen gets his ideas makes real life a little better and bearable. Reading about strong beautiful women sometimes makes me feel the same. Nothing wrong with that I say, it beats escaping down a bottle. I really love when I can fall into a story, just can’t do that with non-fiction.

      • I think fiction, whether sober or not is appealing because the characters can go through struggle and get it all sorted by the end. Neat little package. Real life, non fiction is much messier. We tend to stay on cycles for months and years before sorting it out. 0