The Twelve Steps of Whiskey & Ink

Published by Sam Ruddock on

Step 1
We’ve all heard versions of those intoxicating stories of addiction and the creative process, of whiskey and ink. Of artists using alcohol like a car uses petrol; fuelling the engine and injecting risk into their writing. Romantic, aren’t they? Alluring.

Step 2
Whiskey & Ink is a response to Leslie Jamison’s book, The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath (Granta, 2018). The Recovering has been described as ‘a courageous and brilliant example of what nonfiction writing can do’ by Chris Kraus, and ‘required reading’ by Stephen King.

Step 3
In Whiskey & Ink, you will be welcomed to a special twelve step meeting. There will be stories from famous writers including Stephen King, Jean Rhys, and David Foster Wallace. At its heart is Leslie Jamison’s own, personal story of alcoholism, and the joy she finds in the un-hip rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Step 3
We all need connection. We all need the time and space to reflect. Most of us need coffee and biscuits. You will find the opportunity for all of this at our unique meeting.

Step 4
We all love a good story. We are fascinated by what makes people tick. If they are famous and creative it’s even more compelling. If they’re an addict it adds yet another layer of intrigue. And If they’re have a turbulent recovery we’re hooked. You’ll find all of this here.

Step 5
There’s a wholesome, painful, joy, in the emotional intimacy of a twelve-step meeting. How often do we get the opportunity to bear witness to other people? To take the time to stop talking and start listening? What might we learn if we opened ourselves to the brutal honesty of those courageous enough to share themselves with us?

Step 6
The last poem written by Raymond Carver, then sober for many years, reads:
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Step 7
Humbling, surrender, chorus, confession, abandon, salvage, and homecoming will be the themes of our meeting. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to join us. Or a writer. Though you can be either.

Step 8
There is also loads of humour in recovery. After all, tragedy + time = comedy.

Step 9
Sam Ruddock, Director of Story Machine Productions, is a recovering addict himself. It’s been the hardest journey of his life. But also the most rewarding. This show is his thank-you to the life he has found in 12-step meetings.

Step 10

Leslie Jamison, The Recovering

Leslie Jamison

Leslie Jamison has a tattoo that reads ‘I am human. Nothing human is alien to me.’ She writes about people as empathetically as anyone ever has.

Step 11
Whiskey & Ink is created by Story Machine Productions – a new literature events company that lets you step inside a book and captures the heartbeats between the lines.

Whiskey & Ink is hosted and performed by Jessica Pidsley. She has worked in theatre, tv, film, and radio, performed a comedy show at Edinburgh Fringe, presented dramadoc Mama Courage for BBC radio, and delivered the TEDx talk Have the Courage to Birth your Life in 2017.


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