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Eastern Kentucky woman gained a passion for writing and literature through sobriety

(WYMT)
Published: Aug. 1, 2021 at 7:22 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Many of those who live in Hazard pass the Read Spotted Newt when traveling through downtown, but many don’t know the story of how the business came to be.

The owner of the Read Spotted Newt, Mandi Sheffel, was an addict for 10 years.

“I watched everybody around me achieving all of these goals, and that’s the point where I thought, you know, somethings not right. This is not who I am,” said Sheffel. “This is not what I was meant to do, and it really started affecting me at that point.”

After a decade of addiction, Sheffel finally got the help she needed.

But after becoming clean, her first cousin, who also struggled with addiction, was murdered. Through grief, Sheffel found solace in writing.

“It was really just to help me process grief. I had no intention of, did not consider myself a writer, would have not called myself a writer,” said Sheffel.

After writing her own stories for quite some time, Sheffel wondered why there wasn’t a space for other writers in Appalachia to showcase their work. That’s when she decided to open the Read Spotted Newt.

“So, I thought this is, you know, I think I’m gonna give this a shot. I think I’m gonna try to open a bookstore in Hazard.”

Sheffel says, looking back, she never would have imagined she’d be where she is now, and for those who are in active addiction or recovering, she say’s it’s important not to sell yourself too short:

“You really can’t put boundaries on what you think you can accomplish in that timespan.”

After the death of her cousin in 2013, Sheffel started writing a memoir. She says she is almost finished with the writing process.

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