Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
In the early morning hours of Friday following Thanksgiving, I regained consciousness in a concrete jail cell on the island of Guam.
I had been on the island for 3 months.
I had been losing the battle to control my drinking for 5 years.
I had been losing the battle to create for longer than that.
When I was kid, I wanted to be a writer. My great-grandmother Aileen had written children’s books. It was the coolest thing.
I wrote short stories in elementary school. I wrote articles for the high school paper, and a story I wrote ended up published in Sisyphus, my high school’s literary magazine. When I ran into Mr. Moran—“You can call me Rich now, Tony”—at a coffee shop more than a decade later, he brought up the story. Freezing in Chicago was about a loss-of-innocence moment for a kid shopping on Miracle Mile at Christmas-time.
He expressed disappointment that I’d become a lawyer. And he should have. Which isn't to say there’s anything wrong with being a lawyer. Rich Moran might think so, but I don’t.
The problem with my becoming a lawyer wasn’t that I chose to go to law school and then practice law.
The problem was that by becoming a lawyer, not only did I not pursue my writing, but also I most likely became a lawyer--subconsciously, at least--to provide cover for (ie, to hide) the fact that I lacked the courage to pursue my writing.
By the time Mr. Moran and I had that conversation in 2013 or so, I was on my way to regaining my mojo. I’d put the bottle down in 2010 and had started writing again. But not before I’d wasted the entirety of my 20s in a drunken haze. I’d then spend the end of my 20s figuring out the man I wanted to be and the first half of my 30s pursuing that guy.
I wrote. A lot. And in doing so, I noticed a few things:
1) I loved writing;
2) I felt better when I wrote;
3) Despite understanding the two things above, I had difficulty sitting down and writing consistently; and
4) Just about every creative person I knew, regardless of their medium of expression, faced the same struggle.
Then I read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, and the rest was, as they say…was inevitable.
ACSAS came to into being because I wanted to create more stuff, I knew I could use some help, and I knew other people also could use some help.
Four years later, here we are.