There are several good reasons Alcoholics Anonymous wants its members to avoid the spotlight.
A dozen years ago, after my first novel came out, I was on a live radio talk show in New York City when the show’s host asked, “So, are you in AA?” It was a logical question. My first novel took place at a drunk farm whose clientele attended meetings. And trying to figure out what’s biographical in a fictional work is the favourite sport of many interviewers — and readers.
Everyone wonders: What’s true? What’s not? At readings and talks, one of the most frequent questions a novelist faces is some version of: Is the main character based on you? My first published short story was about a young woman who shot her boyfriend in the foot. I can’t tell you how many people — from complete strangers to my own father — have asked if I ever shot a boyfriend in the foot.
But the New York interviewer’s query went beyond pert curiosity in that it contained and disregarded a critical fact: Members of Alcoholics Anonymous are supposed to be anonymous.
The literature is clear on this. Members “need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, television and films.”
And: “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of our program, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”
Now my third novel (Blame) is being published, and the direct personal questions loom again.
The book tells the story of a young history professor who wakes up from an alcoholic blackout in jail to the news that she ran over and killed two people. She goes to prison, gets sober, rebuilds her life. Already, even pre-publication, I’ve been asked if I’ve been to prison and, yet again, if I’m in that program. (For some reason, no one is interested in whether I’ve taught history.)
I asked a friend, a now-sober novelist who also writes about recovery, how he handles such inquiries. “I say I’m in recovery, or even that I’m in a 12-step program, but I never get specific.”
- See also;
- 12 Step Sponsor
- 12-Step Speaker Tape Links
- Alcohol Related Brain Injury
- THE TWELVE REWARDS OF RECOVERY