I’m Levi Lee, and I’m an addict.
It’s true. I’m what you’d call a person living in long-term recovery from Drugs and Alcohol abuse. I took my last drink on July 9, 2013. My drug of choice was yours. What do you have? That’s what I want.
It’s been a long 3 and some odd years since I stopped pouring noxious chemicals into my brain, and I’ve learned a great many things. For a long time, I even believed that to truly be a creative person, to be a real artist, you had to alter your brain chemistry with wild abandon and at every opportunity. Hell, I was literally afraid for a time that if I didn’t use drugs and alcohol I wouldn’t be able to create at all. I bought into that self-destructive myth that incalculable masses of young creatives fall into. I thought I would burn the candle white hot at both ends, die before thirty, and leave behind a small body of work so bat-shit crazy and wildly original that people would talk about it for years to come. I wanted to be the Basquiat of Indie Horror.
After over a decade of using, and no creative wellspring to show for it, I was tired. I was so tired. I was going to kill myself. Which was unacceptable, since all I had to show for my considerable chemical efforts was a direct-to-DVD western. That simply wouldn’t do. Now, don’t get me wrong. That IS NOT the reason why I went into recovery. Yes, I felt immensely unfulfilled on a creative level, and that caused me a great deal of pain, but that’s not truly why. I went into recovery because I knew in the next few years I was going to be one of three things, sobered up, locked up or covered up. I was killing myself, and I had finally started to care, about myself and about the wanton collateral damage that I’d spread around me with every step I took. I went to several different detoxes and psych wards, and sobriety always slipped away from me. I needed to do something different, and that’s when I heard about Oxford House.
Oxford Houses are sober living homes where men and women in recovery live together and hold each other accountable to working a program of recovery. There are three basic rules that every Oxford House must abide by to have a charter from the International Non-Profit of Oxford House Inc. Any resident caught using drugs or alcohol must be evicted. Each house must be democratically run by its’ residents, and each house must be financially self-supporting. Within that framework, the daily operations and rules structure are determined by the residents of any given house. The inmates run the asylum totally and completely, and it works. It has worked since 1975 when the first Oxford House was opened by the residents of a state-run halfway house that was closing in Silver Spring, Maryland.
You would think that getting a bunch of junkies and alcoholics together, putting them in a house and letting them come up with their own rules would be a classic recipe for disaster, but for over forty years now the inmates have been running the asylum, and I’d put our numbers up against any state-run or funded long-term recovery program in the world. Oxford House has saved my life, and the reason it works can be summed up in a single word. Accountability. You cannot shit a bull-shitter, and the men in my house, my brothers in recovery, are consummate bull-shitters, ergo, you cannot shit them. I, cannot shit them. They know my shit. Alright…enough with the shitting.
These men that I live with hold me accountable for my actions, big and small. We are all working and striving towards the same universal goal, to stay clean, and I would not have been able to do it without them.
I think that the same principles can be applied to writing. I need brothers and sisters in the craft that will help keep me in the chair in front of the keyboard. I need to help keep others in front of the keyboard. In Alcoholics Anonymous and in Oxford House we help ourselves by helping each other. There is no reason we can’t do the same in the writing of horror and dark fantasy. I think that together we can be better and stronger. I think accountability is an amazing and underused tool.
So I need your help. I need an Ygor to my Frankenstein. I need some people who every once in a while will call bullshit and stick a flaming stick in my face until I scream, “Aaaaarrrggghhhh!” and retreat back to my typewriter. Will you do that for me? Will you stick fire in my face when I need it? Not always, but just every so often. I promise, when you need it….I’ll stick fire in your face too.
Jack London said:
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
So, this is me, grabbing the club. Care to join me?