I got a room for nine dollars a day. It had a steel door that made a heavy final prison-like sound when it closed. I had a job proofreading at a medical journal and no TV. I told myself I'd toughen up here. Lose weight. Get disciplined. Eat right. Instead I did the opposite, I blew apart like a firecracker. There was this little porn mag at the time called "Gallery" that featured The Girl Nextdoor Contest where guys sent in nude photos of their girlfriends. Each month the mag picked a winner and brought her in for a professional photo shoot, then published the best pix and put her on the cover. I liked that because the women were real. Almost none had had their bodies surgically altered. These were women one could meet in the supermarket or the park. My daily routine during that time was a painful mixture of meds, work, writing, and liquor. I'd wake up hungover and start my day with a Compazine, Zantac, vitamin, aspirin, Coke and a blueberry muffin. If that stayed down I showered, dressed and went to work. The worst of the hangover usually cleared by lunch. Then I ate, worked some more, walked home, had some kind of dinner, and began writing. I gave myself a couple of hours sober writing time each night, after which I'd go out drinking. If I had a few poems written I was happy. After a few weeks, when the stack of finished poems started to mount up, I'd get out my dog-eared copy of The Poet's Market for that year and decide where to send them. My poems were a lot like those girls in Gallery: naked and raw. I sent them out in fat little envelopes, each with a self-addressed stamped envelope. Then I waited. Every time I received an acceptance letter, I wrote more, drank harder. When a set was returned rejected, I sent them out the same day to another editor, another magazine. By the end of the year I had 19 published poems and a bleeding ulcer. It was worth it.