A Writer’s Diary, Version 2020

A Writer’s Diary, Version 2020

Dostoevsky’s A Writer’s Diary as inspiration for my own diary, which we call blogs nowadays. 

James McAdams | August 26, 2020

In the 1870s, desperate to earn money to pay gambling debts, my hero Fyodor Dostoevsky published a serial log of essays, news clippings, editorials, tabloid gossip, and notes on his works-in-progress in the governing St. Peterburg newspaper. These notes later became the novels The Demons, The Idiot, The Insulted and the Injured, and The Gambler.

I’m going to do the same here, to demonstrate how insane and ridiculous writer’s draft books (or draft apps) are. Or at least this writer’s. This is my writer’s diary. In order to sustain the prevailing atmosphere of confusion, zaniness, dissociation, anxiety, and monomania that surrounds any writer (or again maybe just this writer) in the process of writing a long thing, I’m going to forego contextualizing (or editing) these assembled notes and drag them straight over from the Google Keep, where my novel lives, syncing across seven devices. However, I will remind you of the general shape of the novel, viz. it’s a prison memoir, told by someone (me!) imprisoned for manslaughter and pharmaceutical fraud while working at a nefarious rehab facility in Delray, and tells the story of the people there, especially the woman he loved/killed, Sadonna. This is something that happens all the time: cf. “The Florida Shuffle.” 

James McAdams, A Writer’s Diary

Notes, Themes, and Observations

  • major theme predictive analytics guys in the nerd cave (20s/mid 30s, certificates from online academy, indoctrinated into the allure of large data) VS. home health aides (what I did): people on the ground who understand psychology, narrative, quality. In between, the director, finishing her Ph.D. on psychiatry on? neoliberal surveillance?
  • Theme song: Saturnine Smashing pumpkins, the chorus of “we go into your minds” showing the Nerd Cave and the various clients, make in Adobe Animator?
  • Abando
    Scholarship for rehab people
    Guy in industry gets pulled over by cop who thanks him for saving his life
    Swinton ave in delray. Pharrma and sober homes feed each other, like A Scanner Darkly
    The trio: fentanyl, heroin, and crack.
    Fentanyl is in autocorrect!
    Flying Rehab sign at intersections?
  • Sadonna=venn diagram of Sofie in Stateless, Kaysen in Girl, Interrupted, Claudia Gator in Magnolia, Ally Sheedy (“dandruff chick”) in The Breakfast Club, Julia Roberts in HOMECOMING
Melora Waters screen capture from the movie Magnolia
Melora Waters as Claudia Gator in Magnolia, in the best performance of the 90s.

Online quotes and articles

  • Quote: “Most young addicts I knew didn’t get funerals with a viewing; they were burned to bits in furnaces and, as ashes, thrown into the ocean or tossed to the wind from a mountaintop. I wonder, if I had the opportunity to look on my dead friends one last time—if I could see them as they were in the end, as pale bodies—whether that might startle me into something like closure.” Colten Wooten.
  • Everyone constipated all the time, what kind of plumbing problems, because of weird addiction to Immodium and anti-diarrhea medication
  • Tfs chapters start with media headlines about opioid epidemic… All proven wrong by narrative.
    “All junkies start with their parents medicine cabinet”  vs. Sadonna: no my parents never had anything. Etc.


  • Excerpt: “Honestly? Best part of the job is teaching them things. Addicts tend to think everything is harder and never learn. So teaching someone in their 30s how to do the wash, or someone who’s 50 how to check a fusebox, it’s like rewarding. I guess like having kids but I can’t have them. Other day I taught Billy how to use the oven to reheat pizza. Dude’s 45 and he never used the oven before. They’re all so scared of trying new thing, y know? I think addiction has a lot to do with being scared, like routine, shutting down life until it’s manageable: drinking a bottle of whiskey and smoking a pack of cigarettes every night watching a Marlins game. I know we can’t say it, but there’s something there….I can sort of see how it would be appetizing. Compared to all the drama and bullshit in my life. Especially with guys. Here’s one now, I have to take this, later James.”



Leave a Reply

Become a Creative Pinellas Supporter