Wednesday, October 16, 2013


A visit from an old ghost

Updating the Webmansion, I was looking through some old photos for my site biography when I ran across an old photo from shortly before I went into rehab. This was taken at a World Science Fiction Convention in Boston in 1980. It was first thing in the morning at an autograph session after a night of drinking and about half an hour of sleep. I was looking at the line of fans waiting for autographs, my brain leaking out of my ears, and one of my fans took this picture and mailed it to me.

Amazing how finding this picture brought it all back: My head ached so badly I thought my scalp would shatter, and I was speculating how far down the line of autograph seekers I could reach with projectile vomiting. Everything hurt, I was so very weary, and the prospects for the future looked so very bleak.

Hard to believe it was at that convention where I won the Hugo Award and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, making me the first (and perhaps still only) writer to win the Hugo, JWC, and Nebula awards all in the same year. I had talks with editors and publishers who wanted my stuff, and the hoard of booksellers at the con twice sold out of my latest SF novel, Infinity Hold, and had to restock. And right in front of me was a respectably long line of my fans who wanted my autograph on books of mine that they had paid for. It would seem that things in my life were going pretty well.

Three days after that picture was taken, I was back home, sitting at my desk, a gun in my mouth, getting ready to end it because everything in my life felt like shit.

"Don't you miss it?"

I've been clean and sober for thirty-one years. Every now and then, a drinker will ask me, "Don't you miss it?"

Let me look at that photo again. Yeah, it's what they mean when they say it's the difference between "Good morning, God," and "Good god, it's morning!"

Do I miss it?
Not today, Jack.
Not today.

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