Hobby Becomes Career
ONE of my first problems after discovering AA and gaining a measure of sobriety was just how to fill in all those evenings formerly spent in bars and in the company of hard-drinking companions. In the very early stages, of course, plenty of meetings did a lot to take care of the many hours I now had available, but I wanted to find some hobby or vocation that would put these suddenly discovered new, golden hours to good use.
I was fortunate, I thought, in still having a good job, and now that I was not throwing money around like a drunken sailor, I could afford to take some course or other. Perhaps I could even learn something that would be profitable!
I had always wanted to write for publication, but during my drinking days the masterpieces that had been produced under the influence never seemed quite so wonderful in the cold, sober light of day, and those few that I had got up enough nerve to mail were unanimously rejected by the long-suffering editors upon whom I inflicted them.
Thinking these facts over in my new-found sobriety, I realized that I must need some sort of formal training before I could hope to write anything which any editor would even consider printing, so I took the plunge and enrolled in a correspondence course in journalism. This soon removed all the big ideas I had had regarding my wonderful talents as a natural-born writer. It appeared that I had been making just about every mistake in the book.
I will pass rapidly over the eighteen months of working on that darned course and slowly learning to avoid the many pitfalls open to the beginning writer. Many times I despaired of ever being able to write anything that would come up to the exacting requirements of my instructors. By now, I had given up all thought of ever writing for profit--I just wanted to write something that might be acceptable to the Grapevine so that I could kill two birds with one stone: first, I would actually have something printed, which would prove that I had at least learned something; second, I might be able to pass along the AA message to some other sufferer.
Finally, to my delight, and, I am sure to the utter bewilderment of the long-suffering instructors, I began to turn out writing assignments which came back marked "not bad," "might even be saleable" and similar words of encouragement.
One day, I summoned up enough nerve to actually submit an article to the Grapevine. Within a few days, I received a polite letter of acknowledgement--then, a few days later, a letter from the editor which I shall always prize. This letter informed me that my article was to be published!
Encouraged by this success, I now began to submit little articles to various outdoor magazines. Before long, one of these was accepted, and I had the thrill of receiving the first cheque for something that I, myself, had created. More sales followed, and I found that the money from my hobby was now amounting to quite respectable proportions--in fact, I was able to pay for summer vacations for my family and myself from the proceeds.
Early this year, the plant where I worked was forced to make a large cut in staff. I was advised that I would be among those to be laid off, but due to length of service I would be entitled to a small pension. However, this pension would not be enough to allow me to live comfortably and meet all my obligations.
I am quite sure if this had happened to me in pre-AA days, my immediate reaction would have been to go out and get thoroughly loaded.
How wonderfully that Higher Power we learn about in AA has worked for me! The training which I thought I was taking for my own amusement, merely as a hobby, now came to my rescue. Within forty-eight hours of receiving my notice from my full-time job, I had received offers of employment from three different publishing companies.
I did not lose even one day's work. The Monday after leaving my old job, I was installed in the editorial offices of a national magazine, starting a new career, although having reached what is nowadays referred to as middle age.
The title of the first story I submitted to the Grapevine was "I'm Not Afraid Anymore." For reasons best known to the editors, this title was not used when the story was printed--perhaps it just did not fit in with the layout. I would like to say now that "I'm Not Afraid Anymore" could well be the title of this story, or any future story that I might write, because those words sum up the wonderful change that has come into my life since AA.
With my Higher Power to guide and protect me, I need never again fear unemployment--or fear itself!