Augusten Burroughs knows how to keep a secret. An autodidact with no formal education beyond elementary school, he began working as a copywriter in his late teens and spent 18 years creating global ad campaigns. Behind the scenes, though, he was falling apart, an alcoholic, harboring the effects of what he describes as a wildly-chaotic, abusive and destructive childhood that he’d eventually detail in the massive New York Times bestseller-turned major motion picture, Running With Scissors.
He’s since written numerous follow-on memoirs and novels, and crafted a life as a successful writer. But, there was one area Augusten never told anyone about, even his husband. Until one day, it literally came bursting onto the page. It was time to “come clean” with this one final, and deeply-provocative part of himself, detailed in his new memoir, Toil & Trouble. In today’s conversation, we unwrap the layers that led Augusten from a traumatic childhood through to his wild successes, the life-saving role that writing played in his recovery from alcoholism, what it’s like to navigate the world with atypical sensitivities, and finding the gift among the unfixable things in life.