There’s a great line in “Night of the Gun” by David Carr that’s a direct threat to newly sober writers looking to tell their tales. “Avoid writing junkie memoirs. The line between prurience and pratfall is razor thin. Nothing doing here, nothing but triggers, keep moving.” It’s good advice, but I did not follow it. In January of 2018 I submitted my 62-page proposal for a recovery memoir titled “This Is Not Good,” a not-so lurid confessional about my journey from clownish drunk and drug addict to grateful sober soldier. I submitted it to 20 publishers who all politely turned it down and I’m so glad they did because it sucked.
Instead I decided to launch a recovery website which is also fraught, but won’t require me to revisit all the drab and druggy antics that bought me to this point. The inspiration for the site happened during my early barely-sober days when, only a couple weeks out of a Florida rehab and not-quite assimilated back into life in Brooklyn, I spent hours searching for stories or essays by struggling people. I wanted someone to tell me that the rusted-out way I was feeling would only be temporary. I’d spent most of my work-life writing on the internet and considered myself adept at researching, but I did not find my perfect story match, mostly just ads for more rehabs, just like the one I’d left, or news about Demi Lovato. I tried being more specific in my searches, like, “If I Take 20 Trazodone Pills Will I Overdose” or “I Have 51 Days Sober And I Want To Throw Myself In Front of Truck” and if managed to find some old story on The Fix or another sober-themed site most of their advertising space was occupied by – you guessed it – rehabs. I was asking the internet for help in my new way of life outside of treatment, but it was trying very hard to make me to go back there.
So this space will not benefit or promote treatment centers, at least not directly through advertising. Treatment centers make waaaaay too much money and, remarkably, don’t have an efficacy rate high enough to justify that cost. Yet, when we think of recovery, we think of luxurious rehabs. I say this is a person who actually had a reasonably successful rehab stint (the third time, at least).
The goal here is to provide stories that will provide insight into Recovery’s big business and evolving culture and also offer up some temporary solace for those of us still figuring out how to navigate our new lives. This will be full of triggers, but with less prurience and pratfall. Fingers crossed.
The site is called The Small Bow. It’s not BAU, like “take a bow,” it’s BEAU, like “bow and arrow.” I’m embarrassed to discuss the origins of the site name because it’s extremely overwrought.
Yet, here we are, so “Welcome to The Small Beau,” and all that. Let me introduce some of my cohorts. I picked them not just because they’re great at what they do, but because they’ve also helped me along in my own recovery in their own unique ways.
Clancy Martin, Story Editor.
Clancy wrote my favorite story ever, “The Drunk’s Club.” This story was recommended to me by another former drunk, who suggested I read it because it’s the only thing you ever need to read about recovery ever again. I read it once per week.
Joe Schrank, Executive Editor
Joe was one of the first people I contacted when I tried to get sober and he made me feel like shit, simply because he refused to make me feel special. He’s one of the smartest and most honest guys trying to help hurt people survive.
Amie Barrodale, Story Editor
Amie used to be the fiction editor for Vice, the magazine for Canadian skate punks and old Libertarians. She’s a practicing Buddhist and introduced me to the book “Words of My Perfect Teacher” because she correctly guessed it was something I needed. I love her short story collection, “You Are Having A Good Time.” She’s also married to Clancy, which is tremendous.
Edith Zimmerman, Illustrator
Edith runs Spiralbound. I knew her in her previous life when she was a formidable editor patrolling the internet at The Hairpin. Recently, I saw this comic strip by her and was super-jealous because she managed to articulate so many things I never could figure out how to say.
That’s all for now. We’ll be publishing some stories soon enough. Probably one or two a week because we all need to spend a lot less time on the internet.
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