Following four years of drug use, I sobered up 28 months ago. Shortly after cleaning up, I began writing. I fell in love with writing instantly, swearing myself to her for life. Oh yes, for myself [Writing] is a woman. How else could I explain such an intimate relationship? Fortunately, my wife has witnessed the beneficial influences Writing has brought to my life.

Two years ago, I was dealing with the consequences of my drug use. Short story; I was on probation. This included classes, groups, and three or four drug tests each week. I hadn’t yet reinstated my driver’s license, so much of my day was spent using public transportation. Between work and probation, I committed seven to ten hours each day to riding the light rail or bus. This struggle continued for about 16 months, eventually ending after I regained my right to drive.

My need for productivity, together with an overwhelming desire to unload some of the calamities within my mind, led me to Write. First, a number of short stories began to take shape. Within a few weeks, I made a startling discovery. What I thought had been stories were, in fact, chapters. It didn’t take long for me to accept the truth; I’d always known I was creating something else. The launching of my website would come promptly after.

What followed was an extraordinary trek of self-discovery. I poured every available minute into my Novel. Day and day, and week after week, I typed away into this new love. The result was 185,000 words directly from my mind, heart, and soul. It turns out, the relationship between Author and book is something profound and beyond words.

I’ve heard stories of songwriters putting pen to paper as if something else has taken control of their fingers. Auto writing lyrics until their creation is complete. I can relate to such things. I remember sitting down and banging away without an end in sight. Frustration was common as my fingers could not match the pace of my brain. Time after time, I’d count one, two, or three thousand words after a writing session. Such an experience is life-changing.

Shortly after completing my Novel, I graduated from probation and outpatient treatment. Around the same time, my life jumped from excellent to completely fantastic. Following two decades of separation, my wife and I reconciled. Tina and I rocked our world. Our kids, family, and friends were shocked. In the back of my mind, I’d glimpsed this event but hadn’t accepted it as a possible reality.

These days all I do is work. I work at work. I work on my relationships. I work to prepare for my move to Texas. I’m still fine-tuning my book, working on a final edit before publication. I could not be happier with the world I’ve created, both for myself and on paper.

I need to make a decision. Where do I take my blog from here? What began as self-expressive therapy and a way of introducing my Novel nearly transformed into something much darker. Right around the time I reconnected with my wife, I’d begun revealing a few of my spooky experiences. From Near Death to The Paranormal, my life has been a rollercoaster of . . . well . . . things that go bump in the night. Fortunately, my wife and kids stepped back into my life just in the nick of time before I began disclosing events I should not speak of. Since then, I’ve gotten the sense my family doesn’t want me to relive such nightmares.

So, where to now? Addiction and recovery? Self-inventory and self-improvement? Life’s lessons and the pursuit of happiness? Or, maybe good old-fashioned [torturing pedophiles before a hearty breakfast]? Without question, one of my favorites.

I’ve spent the past two years healing and building a new life. I am living proof of this: Sobriety combined with the undying desire to achieve equals a happy ending. Even if it’s not the end, dreams can and do come to pass. Addicts can and do recover themselves and their loved ones.

Today a new chapter begins.

Joseph Shanklin

May 18, 2021

10 thoughts on “What’s Next?

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