Sarah Hepola

Greetings, and welcome to If you’ve come to this site, you are probably curious about me, or the phenomenon of public crying, so we welcome you. Pull up a chair, pop open a Topo Chico, and let’s get to know one another.

What is a Sarah Hepola?

A Sarah Hepola is a curious woodland creature who stands 5’2” in the wild, 5’6” in urban environments, where she insists on wearing heels. She has been known to write stories about things that happened to her.

What can I do about this?

Nothing. People have tried.

What kinds of stories do you write?

I wrote a book about my drinking problem called Blackout. Dwight Garner at the New York Times called it “simply extraordinary,” and who am I to argue with Dwight Garner? The book has been translated into several languages. I’ve also worked in journalism for two decades. I’ve been a movie and theater reviewer, a culture writer, a music critic, a sex blogger, a travel columnist, a personal essays editor. You can rummage through the archives here.

Are you working on anything now?

Yes. I’m writing my second memoir for The Dial Press/Random House, which will come out in 2020. The book is either about women’s relationships with their own bodies, or my own relationships with men, depending on which day of the week you ask. Probably it’s about both. I also continue to write for magazines (check the latest here) and doodle on my blog.

I think I may have a drinking problem. Can you help me?

Yes and no. I can’t get on the phone with you or anything, but I’ve logged my years in that lonely hole, and I’ve written several articles that might be useful to you. My five-part “Ask a Former Drunk” series begins with the question, “When do you know you have a problem?” and goes on to tackle topics like sex and alcohol, how to keep your life from being boring, and how to get started. But if you need help with a drinking problem, and I certainly did, I recommend one of the many recovery groups, sobriety podcasts, and online communities designed for that purpose. Here’s one that worked for me.

Do you talk about anything other than drinking around here?

Oh yes. We talk about travel, pop culture, the pitfalls of technology, the complications of feminism, the low hum of being alone, our own stubborn need to be loved and what to do about that. If there is a unifying theme on this sprawling megalopolis of a website, it would not be drinking. It would be something like the need to connect or the contradictions of the human heart. Also the best ways to combine chocolate and peanut butter.

How can I become a writer? 

Don’t quit.

No, seriously.

I’m being serious. I mean, there are a passel of behaviors that predispose a person to this profession: Facility with language, a curiosity about human behavior, an urge for exhibitionism mixed with a need to hide. And I can offer you mundane advice: to read more, to use active verbs, to listen and observe, to be rigorous with your prose, to tell the goddamn truth. But at some point, this career is for those who claim it. I heard Hanya Yanigahara say this at an event for her book A Little Life. “It’s not necessarily the most talented writers who get published. It’s the ones who finish.”

Do you have any goals for 2019?

To finish.