Getting Trivial Things Off My Chest – September Edition

I just realized I hadn’t written a trivial rantings article for September yet. While I know nobody was waiting for it, I have a lot of random stuff on my mind today, so it’s a pleasant coincidence.

First, I just did the math, and near as I can tell, I have hit the 500 mark in books sold. To the average person, that may not seem like a lot, but when you dig into sites like Amazon and know what it means to be listed #4,505,294 on their best seller list, you’ll understand why the vast majority of books never make it to 100 sales. The book was released on January 10 and my first goal for the year was 200, then it became 365, then it became 500. I don’t think I’m going to set another goal, I’m just going to be grateful for further sales and hope that reading the book is as helpful for people as writing it was for me.

My Internet is going about 10 times slower than usual today. The irritation might be good. It helps me realize just how easy my life is compared to many in this world.

Did you read my book, The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About: How I Let My Pornography Addiction Hurt People and Destroy Relationships? If you didn’t, click the link and go by a couple of copies. They make great gifts and provoke terrific conversations that start with, “Why the hell did you give me this??!!” If you did already buy it or read a free copy, and thought that it was good, can you go give it a review? I’ve been stuck on 9 for some time now and while I understand being hesitant to tell the world you liked the book, I’ve been told that every review exponentially helps Amazon decide how to rank searches.

So I broke my vow of no politics the last two days and I watched the hearings about the sexual harassment/assault charges against the nominee for the Supreme Court. I think I watched because I happened to see a little of his original testimony, and wondered how this story would unfold. Regardless of what I think should or shouldn’t happen, I was really saddened by the divide this country is in socially. I heard somebody on TV say that they think we’re headed toward a cultural civil war and while that may be a little hyperbole, I don’t think it’s far off. There are people in power, and so many more who support them blindly, that believe they are right, you are wrong, end of story and they exist in both political parties. I don’t think this can end well because there’s going to have to be something that brings people back together and aside from all agreeing to put yellow ribbons and American flags on our cars for a few weeks in late September 2001, this country is just getting further apart. I always say when I do podcasts or radio shows that there is no stereotypical porn addict. Well, there is also no stereotypical American. It’s our differences that make us stronger, not the little tribes we feel better belonging to because they parrot our opinions back to us. This also reminded me to return to not watching the news.

A few months back, I wrote about a library in New Hampshire where I was supposed to give a presentation and how the assistant library director had to write me with her tail between her legs apologizing for cancelling. Apparently, the new librarian was worried nobody would attend because it would be an admission they are an addict, despite the fact it’s advertised as an informational talk from a pornography addiction expert. Along with cancelling, the library had my book for over three months at that point and it still wasn’t on the shelf. The assistant librarian said she wanted to read it to make sure there wouldn’t be anything someone objected to in the book. I didn’t get into a semantics discussion over different ideas presented that may not please everyone, especially after she promised it would get on the shelf soon. Two months later…still waiting. If you don’t want my book, that’s fine, but don’t lie.

With the brilliant people at the Onondaga County Library in Syracuse, NY, deciding that my book was fit for their shelves, I am now in 246 verifiable libraries in the world. I still find it odd that New Zealand has more libraries with the book than at least a dozen states in the US. If you’re too cheap to buy my book, you can probably get it from your library or on loan through a library that has it in your state. And if you live in New York City or Los Angeles, complain to them I’m not in the library yet. I really want to get in those two and can’t seem to crack them.

As always, thank you for reading and/or following my blog. I used to write a weekly op-ed for a newspaper I was editor for. I really cherished the thought that my opinions and ideas were getting out to thousands of people who, whether they rejected or embraced what I wrote, at least were considering it. I know I’m dealing in hundreds instead of thousands these days, but nonetheless, thank you for considering my words.

Help Me Figure This Out: Am I Overreacting to this Situation?

Maybe this is just me venting, or maybe I’m looking for validation that I’ve been treated poorly or maybe I need to hear that I should just shut up and accept things, but I’ve been dealing with a situation over the last day involving a library where I was going to be giving a presentation about pornography addiction. They decided to back out and I just need somebody to let me know what they think from an independent perspective.

I don’t want this to come off as sour grapes on my part, so I’m not going to talk specifically about where the library is or the names of the people I’m dealing with. I understand that they are legally entitled to do whatever they want. I just want to know if I’m correct in thinking that I’ve been treated unfairly. Sometimes I have a complex about these things.

Some background:

In early March, after donating a copy to this library in a nearby state, I was taken up on my offer to give the presentation “The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About” which while it shares a title with my book, it is more an educational lecture about pornography addiction, looking at statistics and what the signs of addiction are, while also sharing pieces of my story. The whole “porn addiction expert” thing comes from having the experience of being one, plus being well-studied on the subject. This presentation is the best of both worlds.

About three weeks after we set a date for May, I was sent an email suggesting the appearance be moved to September, for fear that a nice Sunday in May might keep potential attendees at home. I figured they knew their stuff and agreed. I haven’t spoke to them directly in almost three months.

However, as the book has caught the interest of libraries across the country (and New Zealand…no idea why 4 libraries have it there, yet I still can’t get one into a state ending in the word “Dakota”) I have periodically updated a list kept on this site. I’ve always noticed that library never appears. It was never entered into their electronic catalog.

So, anyway, we move into the last 24 hours. Yesterday I got an email that says:

Hi Joshua
Some sad news – there has been a change in directors since we last talked and they do not want this program. One of her concerns is that people would think attending indicates they have this problem too and they don’t want to have that reputation. She is the boss now so we won’t be able to work with you.
BUT
I was thinking if you set up a discussion panel with you and a therapist or some professional counselor who deals with this – that would make libraries feel more comfortable.  All the podcasts on your website lend a lot of credibility. In your letters to libraries you could mention the website with all your radio and podcast work. And maybe a library would feel better having this as part of a series on addiction:  not just including substance abuse but work addiction and adrenaline addiction – those are not talked about very much either.
I’m disappointed since I know you are doing a good work for the community. But good luck in the future.

This absolutely floored me, but I’m smart enough now to think before I speak…or write. I did want to know one thing though. What happened to the book I sent them? Much like my presentation, was it deemed too controversial? Here is the response I got:

No – I am embarrassed to say it is still on my coffee table for me to read. It definitely has not been removed. For items that could be challenged by a community member I like to read first so I can have the arguments ready as to its inclusion. In all my years of library work I have not personally had a book challenge – but you never know. Take Care

If I was floored yesterday evening at seeing the first email, this one left me looking around to see who was playing a prank on me. Maybe there was some Candid Camera/Punk’d for a new generation involving addicts or authors. It seemed more likely than somebody being serious about worrying their patrons would be seen as porn addicts or that the book would be so offensive that it needs to be examined, even if nothing in the history of the library has ever been deemed offensive. So, I decided to give myself a little bit more time and went out to lunch with my parents and my son to celebrate his last day of school a couple days ago. When I returned, I wrote this:

I have done four library presentations to this point, with (OTHER LIBRRARY) being the only other in (STATE), and I’ve not been met with any of the resistance that either you or your director seems to fear. The idea that people who attend the event are going to be labeled as porn addicts is only true if either of you are doing the labeling. Would you invite an author to present a book on the Holocaust, but assume the attendees are Nazi sympathizers? Would you not allow a book by somebody who was an Army sniper for fear attendees would be the kind of people who like to shoot others?
In (OTHER LIBRARY), I think we drew 8 or 9 people. It was mostly middle-aged women who worked in health care who wanted more education. I don’t think anybody jumped to any conclusions about them, and if they did, so what? Shouldn’t those people get the chance to hear a presentation that is about the healthcare crisis of pornography addiction? After the event, a woman, probably about 35, came up to me and admitted she had a problem and wanted help. After a couple of days of exchanging messages, she found a therapist and began attending a 12-step group for women in (NEARBY MAJOR CITY). So you’re right, you may get an addict there. In this case, it was one who finally got help. She finally met someone in real life who experienced addiction years ago, doesn’t judge and was able to be a resource.
The book is in almost 200 libraries in four countries at last count. I get email daily from some of the people who read the book. Most thank me for trying to start a discussion. To date, I’ve done over 50 radio shows and podcasts not to just promote the book, but to educate about the addiction. A recent study by Canadian researchers said that in the last 6 months, 98% of married men and 70% of married women under 35 looked at pornography. 48% of households say porn has a negative effect on their home. 24% of people have looked at porn at work in the last 6 months. If your fear is that people in (LIBRARY’S TOWN) may end up with the assumption porn addiction is a problem for many of its residents…it is. I can guarantee that, no matter how much people wish it wasn’t so. And the library should be a place that residents can find resources. If this were 1982, would books on heroin and other opiates be ignored because back then, most wanted to believe the people who used those drugs were just the kind of people society looked down upon. Now it’s hard to find a family not somehow affected. Why? Because our society was reactive to the opiod crisis, not proactive.
If this is just a matter of “porn is gross” I don’t disagree with you. There are lots of gross things in this world we wish weren’t here and it’s every individual’s right to make the decision to stay away from it. It’s just a bigger deal when that person is the gatekeeper of information in a community, much like your role and the director’s role in the library. Prior to entering recovery and learning as much as I could about this addiction, I would have fought you hard about the library’s actions because it seems so unjust to me. Somebody standing in the way of someone else delivering information because the first person doesn’t like it just smacks of censorship. I would have taken to social media and contacted the newspaper and try to stir things up, but I’m just not that guy anymore. It wouldn’t really matter anyway because it wouldn’t spread the message that porn addiction is going to be a healthcare crisis of a new variety for the 21st century. I didn’t expect a large audience, nor did I expect the book to have holds on it for the first six months in was on the shelf, but it is nice to think that, like those libraries who didn’t cancel me and who haven’t hesitated putting it on a shelf, their patrons can make that decision for themselves. I hope the irony of the title “The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About” isn’t lost on anybody on your end. 
If you choose not to put the book on the shelf because it will introduce dangerous ideas to your community, I’d just ask you donate it to a Goodwill, Salvation Army or local church fair. Thank you for hearing me out.

 

I half-expected that to be the end of it. I figured the only response could be one that either doubles-down on her vague position, or admits to being wrong upon further analysis. Instead, I got a strange blow-off about an hour later earlier today:

Thank you for writing this – it is very informative.  Your book will 99.99% end up in the collection – the only delay has been that it got stuck in my reading queue but I will put it at the top now.  From the bit I have scanned through I don’t see any problems – but for due diligence I need to go through the whole thing.
It is most excellent your experience at other libraries and hearing of the kind of audiences.  Can I recommend you mentioning this in your website – the well received library visits – and the exact libraries?  If they could give you a blurb to put on your website too – that would be great. After you’ve added the library stuff to your website you can ask one of the libraries to recommend you on a listserv that most all librarians in (STATE NAME) read. Ask one of the libraries where your program was really successful to put a recommendation on the list and contact info on that list. This gives you a lot of credibility and will definitely increase your bookings.
So can I ask you to contact me in 6 months? If you’ve gotten libraries on your website and even a rec on the list – it will be an easier sell for me.

A big piece of me wants to send a response asking if they had to spend time going through all of the pro- and anti-Trump books coming out now on their shelves. A bigger piece of me wants to prod them into telling me point blank what the REAL problem is. I think I know what it is – it’s the “porn addicts are gross, we don’t want one here and would rather pretend they aren’t in our community” stance. The biggest piece wants to write back and say, “Don’t tell me how to become all prim and proper so I can possibly book your library down the road. I don’t want to step foot in your library…ever.”

But I won’t. I won’t send any of those things. I’m going to let it go as far as they are concerned.

I’m just left sitting here trying to think if I’ve been treated poorly, if I’ve been essentially discriminated against, if anybody with a porn addiction is being discriminated against and if the poor people in that town don’t have unfettered access to information at their library. It’s like Footloose, but actually important.

If nothing, it’s at least bad form to book somebody and cancel, right? I know you’re only getting my analysis of the story, although I gave you as much as I have to go on. Am I right to feel slighted and hurt or am I making too much of this? I’d love to know what you think.

Oh, and if you’re new here and don’t know the book I wrote that I’m talking about, you can get the details of it on Amazon HERE. Buy several. Send them to the residents of that New England town.

 

Getting Trivial Things Off My Chest – May Edition

I suppose I can announce it here, or maybe it’s not an announcement…not sure how to qualify it. For the last two months I’ve been working on a book proposal with a licensed marriage and family therapist in California who specializes in sex and porn addiction issues. The book is geared toward the partner or significant other of a porn addict who doesn’t know what to do with the revelation the have an addict in their life. This past week we started shopping it to agents. I forgot how much I hate this demeaning part of the process. I imagine it’s what a young actor feels like going to audition after audition. There’s rarely any constructive feedback, usually just flat-out rejection, or they never get back to you. Not sure which one is the rudest. I don’t know if we’ll get an agent this time out because it’s still a very new genre and most agents only make 15%. You’ve got to sell a lot of books to make that worth an agent’s time. I didn’t get an agent on my first book, eventually finding a small indie publisher who liked the idea. I feel better about our chances in that market, but it’s one of those things where if I don’t at least try to get an agent, I’ll never know what could have been.

In case you didn’t read my last entry, I finally decided to start offering porn addiction peer support and advice services. I have just been spending too much time in the last few months giving out a ton of free advice and letting that cut into the time I usually spend bringing money in with freelance writing. Hopefully this will be the best of both worlds. It’s one of those things where a lot of people have told me it’s a good idea, but who knows if it will actually develop into anything. At least I don’t have to feel as guilty not spending two hours every morning not making money. Add up a week of that and you lose more than one of my average work days.

When I finally took a Myers Briggs Test at my second rehab, I had an even score in two of the four areas. The test administrator said she’d only seen that before two or three times. When we had to divide into groups multiple times to discuss the results, she always told me, “Just do whatever you want.” I think that was a big part of what got me there. Anyway, I think there’s a duality in me that creates these kinds of situations. Long story short, I hear “Yanny” and “Laurel.”

Since I’m trying to focus on getting the new book together and opportunities that may arise from the peer support/counseling I’m offering, I’ve made the decision to stop actively promoting my current book. It’s been out for four months and has already far exceeded what I expected to sell for the year. I don’t want to be one of those people in four years who is still hanging his hat on the fact he once wrote a book. I’ll still do podcasts and stuff if I’m asked, but in an effort to be more aware of my time and what it’s worth, I need to look to future plans, not past ones.

The WorldCat library cataloging system says that my book is at Philadelphia’s public library. But I go to their site and can’t find it. City of Brotherly Love? Really? At least there’s 130 other libraries that do have it. Here’s an easy LINK to the page that lists all the libraries. And if you don’t see yours, loudly complain to your local library. That $2.20 royalty isn’t just going to make itself. Gee, maybe I’m not totally done promoting it.

In Overcoming Addiction, Long-Held Dreams Can Still Come True

It’s fascinating how things work out. Andy Dufresne just wanted to work on a boat project and the younger version of Joshua Shea just wanted to walk into a library and see one of his books on a shelf. Life got in Andy’s way. He was falsely accused of killing his wife, ran a sweet embezzling scheme while behind bars and escaped prison. Of course, he was also a fictional character in The Shawshank Redemption. I, on the other hand, am as real as my mind allows me to be.

Life got in my way, too. When I was 17-year-old high school senior, I saw an ad in my local newspaper’s sports section advertising the position of “sports clerk”. The clerk’s job was to take calls from coaches whose games we didn’t cover either because they were too far away or because we didn’t have the staff and it was deemed unessential for real coverage.

One day, about six weeks after starting, the first round of fall playoff games were rained out. Since the department was down two people, the “real” adult writers were overworked and instead of giving them overtime, they gave them the day off. The editor thought we’d just fill the section with national stories.

A few hours into our shift he came to me and said, “Hey, this is the first year in like a decade the Lewiston High School field hockey team made it to the playoffs. Why don’t you call the coach and have her give you a sense why she thinks they may go far in the playoffs?”

Since I went to Lewiston, I said to my editor, “I’m friends with the two captains, I can call them both, too.” He was impressed I went the extra mile. The next morning, my first bylined story was in the paper.

I almost never had to take another sports clerk call after that day. I was given a staff writer position and was still a high school student. A couple months later, I had proven myself enough that when a job opened in the regular news department, I took it. I fell in love with journalism and never looked back.

Fast-forward 15 years and I’m a magazine publisher, I’d started a film festival and was a local politician. None of this was young Josh’s bucket list stuff. It paid the bills and helped fuel my narcissist side while I hid my addictions, but this stuff was never part of the “dream” plan, they were just good gigs.

As you probably know if you’ve read this site in the past, my world ultimately imploded with my very public arrest for an inappropriate chat room session with a teenage girl. I lost everything I’d worked for professionally. After an intense recovery, I went to serve 6 months in jail. While there, I finally wrote a half-decent book about my addiction. That process revealed to me that I want to help people who are dealing with this issue and help educate those who know nothing and live in a world of stereotypes and assumptions.

When I got out of jail, I continued with recovery and spent the next year editing and polishing the manuscript down to a workable document. I finally found a publisher who would print it.

What’s interesting now, several months after it was officially released is that it’s popping up on the radar of libraries. They automatically get most best sellers or books from the “Big 5” publishers, but little books like mine often go unnoticed.

Thankfully, mine is starting to gain a little bit of traction in the library community. There really isn’t a book written from a male perspective using real names and real events that illustrates a descent into addiction like mine out there. Like the book or hate it, it still can be a resource unlike anything out there and I think that’s why it’s gaining traction.

Not too long ago, I walked into a library that I knew had the book. I went to the New Arrivals section and saw it sitting there, on a shelf with books by authors I recognized and books on subjects I’d want to read about.

Twelve-year-old Josh wouldn’t have believed the subject matter, nor would he have believed that he would write over 2,000 newspaper or magazine articles before his first book would come out, but he would have been psyched to see a book he wrote sitting on a library shelf.

It was a bumpy road on a route to hell and back I’d never advise anybody to take, but there it was…a dream come true.

Morgan Freeman has one of his best voiceover lines of all time at the end of The Shawshank Redemption: “Andy Dufresne crawled out through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.”

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Kennebunk

If you’d like to see a list of libraries my book is in, Click Here

If you’d like to buy the book, Click Here