When I got the grants, I was more excited that they were for writers than I was about the fact I wasn’t going to be homeless.

You had to send clips along with your financial statements. And the ladies on the phone were all, “We just want you to get better and start doing great work again!” which literally no one else said at any point. I got to have lunch with Stephen King which is still kind of a haze because I had to take so many painkillers and muscle relaxants to get there. He was nice.

I had no problem writing when I was suicidal and depressed, I didn’t have financial difficulties then—but that was in the 90s when publishing still paid writers, and I lived in LA and half my life was barter anyway. But more recently when I was sick (I’ll say “physically sick” although the division between mental and physical illness is dumb), I really couldn’t write. Too much pain, too much anxiety, and the industry got sick right when I did.

When I go to meetings, the language of recovery sometimes appeals to me as a way of making sense of how much work it is to stay alive (and how much work enablers are willing to do to help people stay sick). But I also know I had a laundry list of advantages. Despite all the friends I lost, the physical trauma, the financial peril, I was still so much better off than most. I’m trying to do some fundamental work to understand that, and to be more compassionate and less impatient,* and to try and bust the whole ugly system.

*And definitely not empathetic.

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