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Mishka Shubaly On Forgiveness, Authenticity & Life As a Sober Artist

By August 26, 2015May 23rd, 20197 Comments

“The only way to succeed is to fail… over & over & over again. Just get right in your head with failing; that’s how you succeed.”

Mishka Shubaly

If you’re a long-time listener of the podcast, then you’ve treated yourself to several of my conversations with today’s guest. You know this guy well as my gravelly voiced, eminently talented, always charming yet generally disheveled, periodically homeless co-host — now back for a record 6th appearance on the RRP.

Mishka Shubaly doesn’t care much for formalities. But if you need a resumé, his goes something like this:

A self-professed povertarian, Mishka writes true stories about drink, drugs, disasters, desire, deception, and their aftermath. He began drinking at 13 and college at 15. At 22, he received the Dean’s Fellowship from the Master’s Writing Program at Columbia University. Upon receiving his expensive MFA, he promptly moved into a Toyota minivan to tour the country nonstop as a singer-songwriter, sharing the stage with artists like The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Decemberists.

At 32, Mishka got sober and shortly thereafter began publishing a string of bestselling Kindle Singles – short non-fiction novellas — through Amazon. His writing has been praised for its grit, humor, fearlessness, and heart. The Long Run*, his mini-memoir detailing his transformation from alcoholic drug abuser to sober ultra-runner is one of the best-selling Kindle Singles in Amazon history.

Mishka’s third solo album, Coward’s Path — the finest set of miserable and sad songs you might ever hear— will be released on October 2, 2015. His new book, I Swear I’ll Make It Up To You: A Life on the Low Road* hits bookstores March 8, 2016.

If you’re new to this podcast, dig the Mishka vibe and want to hear more, check out RRP episodes 27, 31, 65, 95 & 104. That’s about 9 hours of Mishka to keep you busy.

Otherwise, I hope you enjoy this peek into the complicated, curious, fascinating and always entertaining mind of one of my best friends. I say this everytime I post a podcast with Mishka, because it’s always true: I’m fairly certain this is our best conversation to date. A conversation that explores many themes, including:

  • the toil of writing a book
  • unconscious forgiveness
  • acceptance of one’s alcoholism 
  • bifurcation of the Self
  • the artistic impact of New York
  • virtual empathy & praise
  • investing time with family
  • anxiety stressors
  • pushing boundaries to inspire
  • the power of the spoken word

The show concludes with Mishka’s new single New Jersey Valentine’s Day Orphan Blues from his forthcoming new album Cowards Path.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the exchange.

Peace + Plants,


Listen & Subscribe on iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher

Special thanks to Leslie Hassler (photo credit: Mishka with graffiti) and Karrah Flores (photo credit: Mishka with guitar) for graciously allowing me use of their photography in today’s podcast. Click their respective names to check out their beautiful work.


Connect with Mishka: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Background, Context & Reference:

If you like very good writing and quick easy reads, check out Mishka’s array of Kindle Singles and consider taking his writing course at Yale University.

Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:

Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:

Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.

*Disclosure:Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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Amazon*  |  Barnes & Noble  |  IndieBound  |  Penguin

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  • Tommy F says:

    Being a fellow recovering alcoholic (20months), Mishka I honor your journey. Man, I can totally relate to much of what you’re talking about. Only when we dry-up and abandon our self-imposed destructive lives, can we regain control over our thinking.. our mindfulness. Until then, our ego is spinning our lives completely out of control, tempting us with fleeting pleasures while burying us in deep compounding pain. Only in mindfulness, can we surface out of our self-spun suffering, to begin forgiving the aspects of our life we’d neglected, abandoned and destroyed. Then emerges gratitude for our prior hell, which keeps us afloat. Compassion for our fellow beings naturally follows, keeping us from engaging in the harsh judgment that prompts our relapsing into the emotional tornado’s that twist us into rationalizing our drinking.

    Thank you Mishka, for your humble honesty and authentic bravery. Can’t wait to get a copy of your new book. Floating around life, now mindfully on the sober wagon of my past decisions, I know that your incredible ability to articulate an addict’s journey will reveal some dark hidden corners of my own.


  • Maureen Burke says:

    What a great team! “We are people who normally would not mix” – heard many times in church basements and rings so true. Though I’ll hit a meeting tonight, it will feel like my second for the day after having the privilege to listen to this podcast this morning, thank you.

  • Erin says:

    I really enjoyed this epsoide I think Mishka so interesting and also inspiring. However I feel strange after listening to this, I can’t quite put my finger on it, I think it’s because his journey is still so ongoing (as is everyone’s I guess). I hope he buys a comfy RV and finds contentment spending time with his family, I also hope he finds a strong woman and for God sake I hope you fed him a good meal after this interview…. A lot of hopes and love to Mishka and to you too Rich.

  • Diane says:

    Thank you. I am also a recovering alcoholic who happens to be an artist. I have tortured myself while painting and drawing with judgment and criticism. It is not only exhausting, but dangerous to my sobriety. I will remember what you said and use it as a defense when I start my next project in a few days.

  • Jim Newell says:

    Hey Mishka and Rich,
    Had one of those belly laughs listening to you guys banter about Mishka’s mini-van. I thought I would add another reason. But first… I recently became the proud owner of a 1994 Toyota Corolla (not a typo). It came stock with broken door handles, intermittent heat and a/c, among other wonderful character traits. I drive this for many of the same reasons as Mishka; however, there is one more: it allows me the wonderful gift of not thinking about what I buy at the grocery store, which alleviates, well… we all know. I don’t even use foul language under my breathe when I shop for food anymore. A lovely sacrifice.
    Thanks guys. Needed a laugh, as I sweated it out in the Florida heat on my way home from work.

  • Cara says:

    Great episode! Mishka is so real and refreshing it’s always a sparkling clear conversation, & I love the way he puts things too, it makes you think a little differently 🙂

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