I’m known for being a “rock guy”—playing on stages here and there... sweating... running around... and even cussing sometimes. But I’ve been doing some growing up over the past 10 or 12 years now, and I can happily confess to being a doting dad of two girls and to being a columnist for the Seattle Weekly and ESPN.com—as well as still cursing and sweating... and being that “rock guy.”
You see, while everyone was thinking that I was some sort of agent of chaos throughout the late ’80s, ’90s, into the 2000s, I was secretly also a book nerd. Writing was something I aspired to and worked on.
But I drank too much back then. I got myself addicted to drugs, too. Not fun, and not glamorous. Being caught in addiction pins your soul and body up against a dark wall of confusion and despair. I thought I’d be stuck there until the lights of my young life would finally and prematurely turn off.
Ended up in a hospital and I got a second chance. Received the gift of time: to reflect and to figure out just how to go forward. I started to want to live, and I started to write.
Life moves forward, and it can go by much too quickly at times. For me, taking things for granted since my almost demise is just plain dangerous. Since I have a wife and kids now, for their sakes alone, I need to remain mindful.
I went to college later than most, in my 30s. A journey in itself, I think. Hell, having and raising kids is a journey in itself, too. And maintaining a healthy marriage, and etc., etc. Like I said: life can move on pretty speedily, right?
But why write a book? And why now?!
Books and their writers—in general—are things and persons that I hold in high esteem. The undertaking of writing a book in my case was not at all approached lightly. Words are a currency that can be very valuable to me. Use words with economy, and sprinkle them with care—like gold dust, or better yet, pieces of diamond.
I started to get a “groove” going when I started a weekly column in Seattle. At that same time—some three years ago—I was also hired to write for Playboy. I started to find my “voice,” and began to hone it and find something of a flow. Weekly deadlines are great for forcing an issue and filtering out literary laziness. Adding a third weekly column at ESPN has removed the “hobby-like” feel of the endeavor and has turned me into a guy who really has to think all of the time about what to write next.
It was while at Playboy that my editor there—the steadfast Tim Mohr—got me to start thinking more earnestly of writing a larger piece: of writing a book. A book, I found out, takes a bit longer to write than a column....
I also found that my internal story became much more about overcoming some pretty serious obstacles beyond the usual “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll” fare. Sure, we all have had things in our lives that we have risen to—or failed at—but writing about it and taking accountability is another thing altogether. For me, it was a bit of a personal revelation.
Regardless of any personal story or finding, the time just simply seemed to be right for me to pen a book. The Word application in my Microsoft Office has become a very familiar and comfortable place for me in these past few years. I try to see the humor that sits around the edges of my story, and I give weight to the things that changed my path and just might change another’s. Simple stuff. A lot of work, but simple stuff.
Duff McKagan is the former bass player for and founding member of Guns N’ Roses. Duff was in GNR for 13 years and subsequently founded the band Velvet Revolver along with fellow GNR member Slash in addition to his own band, Loaded. His book, It’s So Easy, is due out in October from Touchstone. He lives with his wife, supermodel Susan Holmes McKagan, and daughters in Seattle, Wash.