April 4, 2022 – As a writer and recovering addict, the highest praise I can give a media outlet is it made me better at each. TheFix.com, which suddenly and surprisingly ended its longstanding run on April 1st was a rare example that accomplished both.
I began reading The Fix shortly after getting clean and sober in late 2011. I’d always been as aspiring writer and was now an aspiring teetotaler. Addicts are often “aspiring everythings” and, while Alcoholics Anonymous had begun showing me how to live sober, as a wannabe wordsmith, I had no idea how to graduate from aspirational to actual. I could write – but serious writers do more than journal or blog for an audience of none.
More than any other outlet, The Fix changed that. For me, even more valuable than its common sense, all-voices-welcome approach to recovery was the literary lessons I gleaned.
Word choice. Article length. Headline construction. The tone-setting effects of strong lead anecdotes. Showcasing data-driven facts over feelings-driven assumptions. The importance of tight writing – not taking eleven words to communicate something better said in six (that’s 11 words!). Sound writing is succinct, not longwinded (that’s six!). I’m glad I’ve been able to incorporate all that I’ve learned for my articles written for the no holds barred Addiction/Recovery eBulletin.The Fix provided key lessons on each of these tools because I could learn them while accomplishing Priority #1: progress in recovery. The result was a “two birds, one stone” efficiency that made reading The Fix a life-affirming mix of instruction and inspiration.
And part of what I inspired to do was write for The Fix! A few years into recovery, I was blessed to start doing exactly that.
Looking back on my earliest pieces for The Fix – which unfortunately have been taken down, along with the rest of the site’s content, as of April 1 – I see a raw writer still searching for his voice. I also see a newly sober addict searching for his sanity. The opportunity granted me by the editorial team helped me hone both. For essayists like myself, writing and recovery have a peel-away parallel: both require us to take initial actions so more will be revealed. There are recovery epiphanies I’ve had that are entirely attributable to fleshing out my thoughts on paper. I am also grateful to TheFix for letting a struggling writer experiment with ideas, however unpopular or even incendiary. Most prominently, in 2016 I wrote a piece defiantly declaring anyone with sound 12-Step recovery could not support then-candidate Donald Trump, arguing his dishonesty, scapegoating and openness to violence directly contradicts tenets of healthy sobriety. Given the avowed separation of AA from all matters political, it took courage to run this piece.
Its latest editor, Allison McCabe, even published opinion pieces espousing views with which she likely did not agree – a thoughtful professional allowing disparate and dissenting voices despite likely blowback. It takes confidence in one’s convictions, as well as commitment to open dialogue, to publish a piece against personal preferences. It speaks volumes to TheFix’s and Ms. McCabe’s dedication to giving issues a fair, public hearing.
Among many moments of validation, I knew I had done some good writing because it helped lead to a book deal. Exploring the challenges of marriage in active addiction and fledgling recovery, Better Halves will be published this November. Its roots are planted firmly in a 2018 piece in The Fix, and I am eternally grateful for its role in helping an aspiring writer become a published memoir author.
Often, addiction and recovery are not issues given to healthy, contention-free debate. The Fix was one of the few forums that tackled these topics in a knowledgeable yet non-evangelical fashion. It was an eclectic mainstay of my recovery, and I will miss it dearly.