Dopefiend is the “code” name of my latest novel-length memoir project.

I wanted to write a few words about what I’m doing, as much to keep you folks at home updated, as to track what happens as I continue to work. I’m excited about this project because it’s now gone beyond the good idea stage and has become a fully formed idea. I have in mind a beginning, a middle, and an end. Not only do I know what’s going to happen in a general way, but I also know specifically what will happen in each chapter along the way. And I have it in writing. I’ve created a chapter-by-chapter synopsis.

But before we get into the details, let’s go high level.

This memoir builds on the success of my Modern Love piece, As a Father, I Was Hardly a Perfect Fit, a humorous essay about forging a relationship with Timmy when I lived in New York City. Here is the full title I’m sending around to agents and editors:

Dopefiend: A 12-Step Story of a Father’s Journey from Heroin Addiction to Redemption with His Son

Not sure if I’ll actually be able to use this title for the finished work, but I love the edgy word dopefiend paired with plaintive call for redemption in the subtitle. My apologies to Donald Goines for appropriating his badass title. Unlike Mr. Goines, I’m not planning on covering much of the time I spent using drugs. Instead, the plan is to focus primarily on recovery. I consider it a spiritual road memoir, though it’s a decidedly irreverent trip.

Obviously I’m going to focus on the 12-Steps, which I’ve used to great effect to change my life around. But I’m not interested in getting tangled in dogma or preachy instruction on abstinence. Instead I’m organizing the story in a way that celebrates 12-Step recovery. Dopefiend is a concept memoir: I am writing it  in twelve chapters, with each chapter to focus on one of twelve spiritual values. Each value corresponds to one of the 12-Steps.

Together the chapters form a narrative that describes how I got sober and built a relationship with Tim. I want to stick close enough to the story about Tim to give Dopefiend some mainstream appeal. But I also want to offer a deep and satisfying story about 12-Step recovery that doesn’t necessarily involve a hero’s journey or a Hollywood ending.

Heroin addiction is incredibly debilitating. If you survive, most of the time you don’t get your wife back, you remain distant from your siblings, and you can never recapture the time lost with your son. If you’re lucky, you don’t die from AIDS or the hard realities of this kind of life.

But if you’re thoughtful about it, you might see how your story can benefit others. You might find a little place for yourself, with a different wife, maybe struggling to build ties with your siblings, or learning to make the best of the time you have left with your son.

I’m excited. I’ll post more in the weeks to come.

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5 thoughts on “Dopefiend

  1. Timmy says:

    MY MAAAAN, I am pumped Popps, DOPEFIEND, i can’t wait until it hits the shelves, I think this is the one that will turn some heads! I am overly excited to read this bad boy from cover to cover!! Keep us updated!

  2. Tim Elhajj says:

    This is the one, Tim.

    I’m going to post more of the story to the site in the next few weeks. I’d love to hear your thoughts (or anyone’s thoughts) as you get a chance to look it over.

    And, anonymous comments are turned on, in case anyone needs to get critical. Remember: it’s all good! 🙂

  3. Laurie says:

    Tim, I am WAY excited about this project! I just have a good feeling about it and am looking forward to hearing more about the process. Sending out good vibes to and for you…

  4. Tim Elhajj says:

    Thank you, Laurie!

    I appreciate the encouragement and support. Not just from you and Timmy, but from the whole family, everyone who has been so kind and listened to me yammer on about what I’m doing with myself and what I’m trying to accomplish with my writing. I know my mom wished me luck. My little brothers and my big brothers and my sisters, too.

    Holly and I have got some cool literary stuff planned for this year, too. I am not allowed to spill the beans on one of our projects just yet, but you will just have to trust me that it is cool. I am planning to move forward with a series of craft essays I’ve been meaning to tackle for a long time now. This seems like the right year. I hope to get one of those posted here before too long.

  5. […] will have more to post as we get closer to launch. For now, use these links back to my site to read more about the project and the first […]

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