Thinking About Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar

A brilliant writer/Ph.D/published author/professional editor called me yesterday. One I deeply respect. She told me she’d just read Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar, and wanted to know why I was not promoting it. She loved it (to put it mildly, it’s almost embarrassing the gushing things she said about it). She thinks I should be getting it out there, trying to sell it more. She said she hated the back cover, it’s all caps and looks unprofessional, and she said there are five typos, but she loved it anyway. She’s the type of super detailed, super editor and writerly writer I feel most intimidated by. I’m still absorbing the things she said and am flabbergasted she took time out of her busy day to call me.

I don’t know what to do with this information. I’d kind of given up on my book. I was convinced it was amateur, and that maybe I wasn’t a real writer.

Initial reactions to the book from many people in my life were curious. Some were plain afraid to read it and didn’t. Some of the people closest to me read it and then didn’t mention it. So of course I took that to mean it sucked. Others who did read it said things like, “Oh it was so difficult to read,” or “Oh it was so painful to read,” or “I don’t usually read that kind of book,” and it filled me with shame. I felt guilty to have burdened them with my story.

The woman I spoke with yesterday said just because something might be difficult to read, doesn’t mean people shouldn’t read it. She said she wants everyone to read it. She thinks it has the potential to help a lot of people, particularly kids growing up in alcoholic homes. She freaking compared it to Angela’s Ashes. And then I fainted.

In Janurary 2012 I wrote a guest post for Lisa Romeo’s blog (which I regretted one second after submitting to her…because it was whiney and cowardly and passive aggressive). In it I discussed how disappointed I was that many writers I know didn’t take up the cause for my book.  I wondered if it was a bias against self-publishing.

My gramma used to say, “When you point your finger at someone else you have three pointing back at yourself.”

The true thing is I didn’t take up the cause for my book. IT WAS ME. I was fearful of asking for help. I was afraid of being rejected.

And I as much as I said the book was about releasing shame, I had a long way to go, because I was still ashamed, still scared of burdening people with my story.

We talked for an hour. She gave me so much to think about.

What a generous gift.

This entry was posted in adult children of alcoholics, appreciation, Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar, memoir, Uncategorized, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Thinking About Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar

  1. Kathleen says:

    Yes, yes, yes!

  2. Shelia says:

    This is fabulous news! I’ve not read it yet. I have yours and Carrie’s though, and I’m looking forward to a break when I can just sit and read! I will let you know when I’ve read it too! I’m so very happy for you and anxiously awaiting all this means for you as a writer and a woman of great courage and vulnerability. I, too, am a daughter of a drunk at the bar. My dad died driving drunk after he left one. Then my mom took up his barstool there and was never home at night. I look forward to reading it!

  3. Kathy Sullivan says:

    I sincerely hope you are done doubting yourself, or at least will doubt yourself less. Your book was wonderful and it left me wanting more. It also left me wanting to share it with everyone. Get back on your own bandwagon girlfriend. You, and your book, are worth it!

    btw…who was the writer?

  4. Susie says:

    So glad you received such a wonderful, inspiring, well-deserved call Michelle!
    I am not a good book reader and not a writer at all, but I read your book last year and it kept me hooked until the end. It is truthful, honest sometimes painful(to me b/c I knew you through some of the times you write about), but real. Don’t give up on yourself or your book…keep your chin up and do what you need to until YOU are ready to stop and not because you think others are judging etc. XOXO

  5. mom says:

    I am proud of you! Sometimes things are difficult to read because they touch painful places, scary places, unsettling places. That does not mean that it shouldn’t have been written. I you my amazing daughter. You just keep soaring!!

  6. Carrie Link says:

    I agree with her and I agree with you. NEHBM about DAUGHTER OF THE DRUNK AT THE BAR. Go, go, go, GO!

  7. Lisa Romeo says:

    I agree with the woman who called you on the phone. But then, you knew that, right? The good news is it’s not too late. (p.s. I’m slobbering-over-myself grateful any time anyone calls me on the phone, unbidden, to say something even remotely encouraging. It’s such a rarity these days. I probably would have fainted too.)

    Go, girl.

  8. Betsy Hicks says:

    Whoo Hoo! Deserving of every word! Gush away, girlfriend. You are worthy and so is the book!

  9. You know, I thought the exact same thing when I read your book — down to the typos that I caught! I remember exactly when I finished it, too, gazing out at the mountains of Yosemite while I waited to pick up my son Oliver from his first two weeks at camp. I am NOT the child of an alcoholic, and I have no relatives with alcoholism that I know of; however, that book rang loudly and clearly for me on so many other levels, so I can imagine that it must positively BANG for those whose experiences might be similar. I say go for it — promote your book, let US promote it!

  10. Michelle O'Neil says:

    Elizabeth, thank you so much.

  11. Michelle O'Neil says:

    Thank you Betsy-boo. xo

  12. Nancy says:

    She is right and I LOVED it. I don’t think there is a person who is not touched by someone, somehow with alcohol addiction and your book, among other things, was inspirational. While parts are heartbreaking, you are not pulling people down by burdening them with your story. On the contrary, I think you help shed light, open minds and raise hope for others. <3

  13. Georgia Mom says:

    The free portion of your E-book that I was able to read resonated with me, as we had much in common in our younger years. I thought for sure that I wrote that to you in an email…? I didn’t feel any of the non-positive things you mention in your post. The book is your truth. It happened and affected everything in your life during and afterwards. I don’t think shame is yours as you would have changed things if you could have. I do think non-negative comments should weigh at least as much as negative comments! Congratulations on this great news about your book. One of the things you mentioned as your intention for the book – showing people they can help young girls such as ourselves, I am sure, will happen. And probably has already. I also love how it brought your mom back into your life and into the life of your family.

  14. Michelle O'Neil says:

    Thank you Lisa, for your support. I’ve always admired your writing so it means a lot to me.

  15. Michelle O'Neil says:


    Period. To you Ms. Link.

  16. Michelle O'Neil says:

    Mom, this book could not have been easy for you to read or to have out there. I thank you for caring more about me, than about appearances.


  17. Michelle O'Neil says:

    ((Susie)). Thank you Susie. I was so honored that you read it and have always felt such love and support from you.

  18. Michelle O'Neil says:

    Kathy, you have been a friend who has made me doubt myself less. Knowing you has been a huge gift to me, here in CLE.

  19. Michelle O'Neil says:


    Sadly there are too too many “daughters” out there. I hope the book speaks to them, and lets them know they are not alone. And I hope it lets others understand what kids might be dealing with, and to offer compassion whenever possible. I am so sorry about your dad, and then…your mom. You’ve grown up to be an amazing person/teacher despite it.

  20. Michelle O'Neil says:


    You just love the book because you star in it. LOL. I love you forever. Amen.

  21. Michelle O'Neil says:

    Georgia Mom,

    You are so right that I should be giving more focus to the support I have received than to the negative or non. I know you are right. Thank you for that reminder.

  22. Michelle O'Neil says:

    Thank you Nancy.

    “you are not pulling people down by burdening them with your story”

    That means a lot to me.

  23. Meg says:

    I read it, I loved it and I thought it was important enough that others should read it. I have recommended it many times over. The very emotion you describe so well in the book, the feeling of aloneness and shame, is exactly why you haven’t been promoting it and exactly why you must. Because there are others out there, feeling that way, too, and they need to hear from you. And you need to keep working on making those feelings a part of your past. Love you!

  24. Michelle O'Neil says:


    Thank you.

  25. kario says:

    I had a similar conversation with a friend yesterday and I applaud you for listening and absorbing and not getting defensive or curling into a ball in the corner once you made some realizations. You are an absolute wonder, my dear, and I am more than happy to help you in any way I can from all the way over here on the other coast (btw, you know you’re moving farther away from me and Carrie, right? How dare you ;-)).


  26. Michelle O'Neil says:

    Thank you Kari for all your love and support. The next move may not be our last. Who knows? We might make it to the West Coast yet one day.

  27. Michelle O'Neil says:

    A friend who did not read my book said today that this post made her feel guilty. This is my response:

    Everyone has their own reasons for reading or not reading. I was writing about how I internalized it, but that doesn’t mean my internalization is “right” or that any friends who didn’t read it were wrong. It also doesn’t mean that anyone else’s response to reading it was wrong either. I can only write about my experience and my own internalization of their responses when they say it is hard to read. I realize my response doesn’t reflect their intentions. And I am grateful to anyone who reads the book, especially if it is hard for them.

    And it’s no one else’s job to mop up my insecurities by having the “right response” to my book. It’s all an opportunity to explore what still needs to be healed in me. It’s all a gift.

    No guilt please. It isn’t called for.


  28. Kris says:

    On the recommendation of a friend I bought the book. I read it overnight. Yes, the back cover is terrible. Yes, there are a number of typos. I’ll even go so far as to say that the internal text needs to be reformatted. But those are details. The story you tell is compelling and one that resonated with me. You captured the 70s and 80s – my 70s and 80s – so well. Your anger and hurt and shame are so evident and I felt them. I felt your pain, and mine, through my own lens of being the daughter of the drunk at the bar. Your memories brought back some of my memories, good and bad. Thank you for sharing your story.

  29. Thank you for looking past the technical issues and finding value in the story Kris. It’s been quite a learning process. I appreciate your feedback. The back cover, the typos and formatting issues have been addressed.

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