Lust addiction and sexual acting-out brought me into SA, but it was the spirituality of the SA literature and deeper spiritual fellowship I found in SA meetings that kept me coming back and called me to perform service in SA. With a background in writing and editing, I served on the SA Literature Committee that edited the White Book and Recovery Continues as well as other SA literature.
I became the Essay editor after Roy K. turned over administrative functions he performed for the Central Office to the Fellowship at the Chicago conference in July 1991. I had been a reader of the Essay since I joined SA in 1985. I had worked on previous issues of Essay with the editor, as a contributor and editor.
As Essay editor I would be part of a newly-forming service structure that was overseen by the Central Office Oversight Committee, or COOC. The Central Office, then located in Simi Valley, California, would continue to manage the Essay distribution list, as well as oversee printing and mailing. Four issues a year was the expectation, agreed by all involved. The COOC approved a stipend for the editor that covered expenses to attend the SA International Conventions.
Roy K. wrote the Essay editorial guidelines, incorporating input from SA members. In effect, by writing the guidelines Roy put on paper editorial principles he had been practicing since he began communicating with the SA Fellowship at large in the early 1980s. Since he became a member of AA in 1974, Roy had been an avid reader of the AA Grapevine.
The editorial process was pretty simple. The office manager provided copies of anything that might be useful to the editor. I made the selections, copy-edited, arranged the sequence. The “meeting in print” featured Group and Member News. The twice-yearly SA International Conventions served as prime sources of material, providing recorded talks which we transcribed, shares on topics and Steps.
A “Feedback Corner” featured accounts of new group practices, as well as comments on previous features and events. The “Box 300” section carried committee reports, business news from the Central Office, and announcements. The list of group financial donations to the SA Central Office—always a popular feature among the readership—was provided by the office manager. I sent finished work to members of the Literature Committee for their review and comments. An Essay Committee of rotating members and with widely differing skills contributed to every issue of the newsletter.
Service at this level was the most fulfilling, rewarding, and challenging experience I had in my life. I felt trusted and my service was valued. For me the Essay also was a bridge, a familiar vehicle that linked my beginnings in the SA Fellowship overseas and at my new location when I moved to the USA a couple of years before.
I took great satisfaction in the work of carrying the SA message in the newsletter. I always had a sponsor and I remained active in my home group. I gained much benefit from check meetings, and from participation in committee discussions.
Service taught me more about the importance of making Tenth Step amends to others when fear-based thinking affected my service relationships with others in service, and I learned to express gratitude to others who made similar amends to me.
I learned to surrender many times my defect of approval seeking, and its twin, fear that standing on principle would provoke anger in others. I learned that perfectionism is a defect only when applied to others, away from myself. When I own it, I grow in humility. Humility taught me to ask for help, and to accept the help I received.