Category Archives: Stories

Why writers write


When Forty Years Stoned was published, I dreaded the idea of doing any public speaking on behalf of it.  Like lots of people, I didn’t have that kind of social confidence, or at least I thought I didn’t.  Then I gave a couple of public readings, and they went well.  I realized that I had been carrying around his outdated image of myself for decades, as a shy awkward kid from Detroit.  But it didn’t fit the man I was now, fifty years later.  I had acquired some charm along the way.  So I got my speaking game together and practiced some riffs.  Here are three clips of me enjoying the spotlight in late September at the Southern California Writers Conference in Irvine.

The Route to Publication

Last spring, after I finished writing my memoir Forty Years Stoned, I pitched it to 120 New York literary agents.  Then I sat back to await their unanimous confirmation that this was the finest piece of storytelling since Hamlet.

Eighty of the 120 didn’t bother to reply.

Thirty replied with a no.

Ten asked to see the manuscript.

Of those, my favorite reply was this one: Continue reading

Her Last Words?

P1000503The other night I left Holly with her caregiver Janet and went out for dinner by myself. When I got back at 8, she was sitting on her bedside commode. Plainly, she was distressed, but she couldn’t say what was wrong. Janet and I comforted her, and after ten minutes or so we got her up and into bed.  We lay her carefully on her side to keep the pressure sore on her tailbone from being aggravated.

I tiptoed away, heading upstairs to the refuge of my own room.  Then Janet summoned me back. “Holly’s calling for you,” she said. So I kneeled down next to her bed, and she made a valiant attempt to say something. As so often happened, the words in her mind kept wanting to come out, but she couldn’t complete the connection. I struggled to make a guess at the subject matter. Her voice was so whispery, so indistinct, yet so insistent. Continue reading

Five Days Without Weed

MJ-leafFive Days Without Weed

I had a hernia operation coming up, and they were going to knock me out with general anesthesia. Because I’m a daily dope smoker, they said they’d have to increase my anesthetics. But if I laid off the marijuana beforehand, I could get a normal dose. So five days ahead of the surgery I took my last puff, then set the pipe aside. Continue reading