Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Dropped Acid, But I Never Made it to the Other Side

By Michele Young-Stone, writer, mom, wife 

Break on through to the other side—The Doors.  When I was a teenager, I dropped LSD (more than once, I’m afraid…). I tried to find that “other side,” to walk through “the doors of perception”, to find some knowledge and insight as yet undiscovered, a new way of seeing the world.  Now that I am a responsible parent, a wife and a novelist, writing and writing every day, I realize that here I am:  I’ve done it!  I’ve broken through.  I’ve spent months revising my latest novel, The Saints of Los Vientos, which means I’ve spent years with the novel’s characters who presumably exist only in my mind.  But that isn’t the case.  I’ve broken through.  I see the everyman in the characters I write.  I love them.  I cry when they cry.  I feel their love, their lusts, their joy and their pain.  When they squirm, I squirm.  When they celebrate, I party down.

I never needed drugs to get to the other side, just time inside my head, realizing that I had something to say, that the mind has many caverns and if you spend enough time there, you’ll discover some amazing new stuff.  There’s nothing like writing: the lone person in a room for hours at a time.  The lone person never alone, imagining herself to be each character—experiencing that character’s emotions, picturing the scene (what’s hanging from the ceiling?), eating the food (what’s for dinner?) feeling the cold or the heat, digging in the dirt.

Maybe when people use drugs, they’re trying to avoid breaking through to the other side.  Maybe it’s sometimes easier to cloud the mind than it is to find out what’s going on in there. 

WhAt Do yOu ThInK?    

Michele Young-Stone is the author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors.  Her next novel, The Saints of Los Vientos, about two girls born with wings (and much more), will be published by Simon & Schuster next spring.


  1. Winged girls? Sounds very intriguing. Glad you had the break through.

  2. Loopy post, Michele!! I love that idea that we novelists have broken through.

    Can't wait to check out your latest!!

  3. Michele, I hear you loud and clear about breaking through. And it's what we seek when we write, that knowingness. I sometimes think it's like playing house when we were kids, free to float in the imaginary world. I love the title of your book. Best of luck with it.

  4. Ah, yes, youth--so many experiences, so much fun--wish I retained the figure of a teenager with the wisdom of a *ahem* 40-something.

    I enjoyed your post. Writing an especially good scene is akin to breaking through to the other side. Sometimes when I reread my work I have no idea where the words came from or who wrote them--I mean I know I wrote them--but I don't remember doing it.

  5. What a great space to be in. There is something sort of new agey about what happens when you get there and it's hard to explain, but I like the way you did.

    I look forward to checking out your books.

  6. I've broken through to the other side of something...and there's wine here.

    Great post.