Hello everyone! Along this journey of writing my own story, I have been given the opportunity to virtually “meet” some pretty amazing characters. So often when we think of addiction, our minds automatically go to the negative aspects. I want to shed some light on the positive things that can come from it-like the ones that light the way for others to claw their way out. Jordan is working on getting his debut memoir published at the moment. He has a story that will change lives and I’ve been given the opportunity to beta read some of his work. If you are looking for someone to share some ESH (experience, strength, and hope) look no further. He has a voice to be reckoned with and I cannot wait until I can purchase his full story.
Tell us a little about your story and what inspired you to write, One Hit Away.
My name is Jordan and I am a grateful addict in recovery and Sand Island Treatment Center is my home group. I have been sober from all mind and mood-altering substances since 2011, though I don’t personally celebrate or count the days. I love the term “rock bottom’s basement” and vividly remember living there while believing there was no way out. I was homeless and weathered, and one cold morning I woke up next to the body of a close friend who had overdosed in his sleep. Just before that, the local needle exchange was conducting free HIV tests, and I had tested positive—though I would later find out it was a false positive. Add to that a few felonious bench warrants hanging over my head and a devil in the sky and you can get an idea of how hopeless I was.
The sad truth is that not a lot of addicts make it out of that situation—and though it felt like The Hunger Games, the odds were never in my favor. I will never forget where I came from or the certainty that recovery was impossible. I thank God that I had unconditional support that sought me out to offer a golden opportunity to receive help from Hawaii’s oldest treatment center. Along with a geographical change and parents who never gave up on me, I was able to right my wrongs and turn my life around. Writing my story wasn’t my idea. I have heard over the past nine years that the series of events that unfolded in my life were nothing short of a chain of miracles. It took me a while to believe that. From being found on the streets by parents who were prepared to say their goodbye, to surviving a two-year treatment plan, to continuous and prolonged sobriety—it’s not something that happens often for those up against the opioid epidemic. My inspiration to share my experience, strength, and hope stems from the desire to help others.
What do you hope to see come from publishing?
In 2011, my counselor in treatment promised me that if I trusted the process, I would be successful beyond my wildest dreams. At the time, I thought he was talking out the side of his neck, but it didn’t take long to realize he knew exactly what was awaiting me. In time, most of the destruction and damage I have inflicted over the course of my using career has been righted. I’ve been fortunate to see success in business, love, life, and relationships. After marrying the girl of my dreams, we bought a little plot of land where authority isn’t recognized and set up shop for a future family.
I guess what I’m getting at is that my memoir was and is a passion project. I have learned a lot in nearly nine years of sobriety and see some fundamental flaws with how families and loved one’s address addiction. I know from personal experience that you don’t have to be ready to get help for a miracle to happen, contrary to popular belief. I know this because I ran from my warrants under threat of incarceration with no intention of getting clean. Fortunately, I ended up in a place surrounded by recovery, and that school of thought rubbed off on me over time, but at the time I wasn’t ready. I’ve also learned that relapse is not an option, no matter what, and that black and white delineation is probably why I made it this far. If I can get this message out, I believe I can truly help others, which is my ultimate goal behind this story.
Tell us about your writing process. I.e. routine, schedule, how long did it take to complete, editing, etc.
Like most anything else in my life, I jumped into writing headfirst without checking how deep the water level was. It was a rude awakening when I realized two things almost immediately: I have a powerful voice that bleeds into the paper, and I had no idea how to structure or format a memoir. Thankfully, I know a good story, am an expert on my subject matter, and feel fortunate that my parents instilled a love of reading in me and my two brothers from early childhood. What followed next was a torrent of research, leeched from YouTube videos and bookstores.
I have some close family friends who acted as my early beta readers and motivated me to keep writing yet also posed questions that had to be asked. The most helpful was also the most blunt as friend successfully detached himself from our relationship and provoked me to make him care as if he never knew me. The memoir genre is unique in that I am retelling a series of events, but to be honest, there was a good portion of my book where I was out of my mind. Since it was imperative to keep stay true to my story, I dug into court, medical, and detox records, compiling an accurate timeline of times I tried to forget. I ordered court audio transcripts to include accurate dialogue to add to a year’s worth of journal from rehab. After transcribing my journals and cherry-picking the most interesting events, the next instrumental contributor was my mother, who had kept her own records when she began her search for me.
The whole ordeal was hard to relive but together, over countless hours of conversation, I reconstructed a beautifully accurate timeline. To be honest—I’ve never been a goal-oriented person—but set daily writing goals that kept me going and on track. I stopped sampling records and making beats for the time being and turned my music studio into a writing lab and wrote daily. Hurling myself toward a 120K word count, I intentionally overshot the standard WC for my genre knowing that I would pair it back at least 20K words during revision. Then, editing began, and I sought professional editing for the first few chapters to learn what I was and wasn’t doing right and took over. My first draft was pau six months after I started, and now ten months later, I am deep into the query trenches.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in the process?
I was most surprised to see far I’ve come and developed as a person which was most noticeable when I cracked open my 30+ journals from treatment. To see where my mind was at and the confusion I had endured through detox was uncomfortable to say the least. While I will never forget where I came from, that portion of my life was as hazy as my using years. Another interesting occurrence was the revelations between my wife and myself. Chelsea has only ever known the “sober me” and while I have withheld nothing from her, the stories that bubbled to the surface during the writing process fascinated her. There was a lot I remembered that I hadn’t thought about for years, and most of it was not good times. That said, I am a firm believer I have to illustrate how bad life was to the reader to give any sense of comparison to how blessed I am today.
How did your family and friends respond to your memoir? Were they supportive, upset, indifferent?
It takes a village to raise a child, and here in Hawaii, our Ohana is extended wide, including not only blood relatives, but friends and loved ones. Everyone has continued to be supportive of this process and I am grateful as always to know that I will never stand alone. Besides living through the story with me, my parents were there as often as I needed them to be to keep me on track. They provided either correction or confirmation of hazy memories and that helped keep my story on track. As crazy as my story reads, I can defend every scene which is a statement I am still on the fence about for being proud of. The treatment center I graduated from also had my back, which was instrumental and reassuring. My counselor, now a dear friend and mentor, was one of my earliest beta readers and supports me still. My wife was willing to listen to each chapter as I read to her in bed each night, and as an avid reader herself, she taught me when a reader might be left wanting.
How can we keep up with your journey? Social media links, website, etc.
If you’re an addict or alcoholic in recovery, you can catch me in a meeting though my homegroup is closed to the public so that’s not likely realistic. You’d have a better chance of following me on all social media @Jordan_P_Barnes if you so feel inclined. Instagram
Please check in at www.JordanPBarnes.com for any updates on One Hit Away and future projects. Mahalo!