What You Will Hear:
- Getting Life Back after Divorce
- Alcoholic or Just Having Fun? Know Someone with Alcohol Problem? Beem’s Story
- “Nothing was as Important as My Next Drink” “Alcohol Took Over My Life” Beem’s Story
- Getting Sober and Uncovering Forgotten Dreams
- Publish First Book at age 45
Listen to ReLaunch Show on iPhone or Android App
More about our featured guest
After divorce, he became “aimless” and started drinking. Indie author Beem Weeks shares his story of getting sober and publishing his first book in his 40s. This Michigan native and father of two grown children released his debut novel, Jazz Baby, in 2012.
He has recently published a collection of short stories entitled Slivers of Life.
[00:02] Joel: Welcome to ReLaunch, your daily dose of inspiring stories, fresh ideas, practical steps and solutions, and you can think of this show as being your prescription for personal growth and business success, and if you are a daily listener, welcome back to the show and thank you for tuning in to the “Before and the After Show Online Conversations on Twitter.” And if you're new here, well just know that you are among friends and Pei, you and I have done a lot of shows together, and we've been incredibly blessed by our guests and their willingness to share, and also by our listeners and there are a lot of reasons why there should be a ReLaunch, right? There's shakeups in family relationships sometimes, there's dismantling of living situations, there's career changes, and then sometimes there's a health scare or a health crisis, but let me ask you this Pei: There's a lot of reasons why there should be a ReLaunch, but what do you think is one of the reasons for an actual ReLaunch?
[01:17] Pei: Well, I have a thought, but it sounds like you have one you wanna share.
[01:22] Joel: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that I've learned in doing this show is that most, if not all ReLaunchs happen when the pain or the possible regret of not doing the ReLaunch becomes greater, than the possible pain of not doing it. Did I say that right? You know, when the pain of not starting the business, or writing the book, or sharing the story, or creating the movement, outweighs the uneasiness or the pain of stepping in into the unknown.
[01:52] Pei: Sure, I think, wasn't that Anthony Robbins, he's the one that coined the term that pain is a bigger motivator than pleasure?
[02:00] Joel: I think so. I think so.
[02:02] Pei: Yeah.
[02:02] Joel: That's one of the things that I've learned that really triggers a ReLaunch, and that just kind of came to mind when I was kind of reading some of the background of the story of our guest today. Joining us on the show, indie author Beem Weeks, and one of the reasons that I'm excited to have him on today's show is because he pushed forward with his dream and his personal expectations, regardless of his age, his experience, or the tough learning lessons that he's had in life, and he moved forward, and actually revisited something that used to bring him joy and fulfillment, and that is writing. We're gonna learn all about it on today's show. His debut novel, it was an indie novel, and it was called Jazz Baby and he also published a collection of short stories called Slivers of Life. Beem Weeks, he is on today's show. Welcome to ReLaunch, sir.
[03:03] Speaker 3: Thank you so much. I am truly honored to be here.
[03:06] Joel: Well thank you for following us on Twitter. I think that's where you and Pei originally got connected.[chuckle]
[03:12] Pei: Well it helps when he has a little doggy face on the profile. I mean, how can I miss that?
[03:16] Joel: Oh, a doggy face!
[03:19] Beem: Yeah, that's the method to my madness, put the doggie face out there, and people listen, people follow.
[03:26] Joel: Well, well played, well played Beem, because we have two dogs of our own, if you didn't already know that, and since, this is the first time Pei's ever been a dog owner, and nine years later, boy, around here it's all about Bubba and Jake, it's all about our guys so. Anyhow…
[03:44] Beem: Fantastic!
[03:45] Joel: Well thank you for listening to the show and for getting ready for today's interview. Again, we're real excited and thankful that you're joining us. So talking about Beem's ReLaunch. There's been a lot of them that you've experienced, like we all have, right? But what has been the one that has been transformational that we can talk about today?
[04:06] Beem: For me it was, my life just kind of collapsed, it caved in. I went through a divorce then I had lost my job and was working some menial jobs, although I shouldn't say that because there's no such thing as a menial job. There's jobs that somebody has to do them but these weren't the jobs that I was looking to make a career out of and I just kind of, after my divorce, for 10, 12 years or so, after my divorce I just kind of drifted, I was aimless. I had an alcohol problem, a serious alcohol problem, and I eventually got cleaned up, and my ReLaunch started with connecting with another indie author who offered a creative writing class, and that just kind of stirred, I had been writing my whole life. I had written record and concert reviews, short stories, essays and things like that and I had put it down. I was too busy drinking and feeling sorry for myself and like I said, kind of drifting aimlessly through life.
[05:19] Joel: That was about 10 years you were doing that.
[05:21] Beem: Yeah. And then…
[05:22] Joel: So let me ask you this, you were about to tell me something good and so just hold on to that for a second. When did your ReLaunch, coming out of the, I don't know, the hole that you kind of dug yourself into, or drank yourself into, I'm not making light of that by the way, but tell me about when your ReLaunch, Beem's ReLaunch became a necessity for you and here's what I'm talking about. A lot of times when I'm talking ReLaunch with people they talk about ReLaunch and making a choice and you know what it's like to make a choice. It's like, “Tomorrow, I'll be different. Tomorrow, I'll eat better.” Or, “I'll clean up,” or, “I'll start going to church,” or, “I won't drink anymore.”
[06:00] Joel: It's easy to make those choices. And right? We've all made them before, right? And, we didn't stick to them but, there comes a point in a person's life when they go from a ReLaunch of choice that, “I'm gonna make a choice so that things that'll be better,” to a ReLaunch of necessity. In other words, “It is not necessary for me to ReLaunch, to experience myself in a different way. To allow other people to get to know me in a different way, and to do everything different in my life, it's now become necessary for me.” So, talking about necessity. When did your ReLaunch become a necessity for you?
[06:41] Beem: For me, okay, this goes back, a ways back.
[06:47] Joel: Sure, okay.
[06:47] Beem: Before I started back into the writing, but it was the very last night that I drank. I was coming off a 14-day drinking binge. This is in the late '90s, and I ended up with severe alcohol poisoning. And, I suffered a major seizure, and I stopped living. I was dead, clinically dead.
[07:12] Joel: Really?
[07:14] Pei: Who found you? Who took you to the hospital?
[07:17] Beem: My little brother. And I… I witnessed this darkness. I mean, a profound darkness, while I was not in my body. There wasn't some, wonderful light, and seeing loved ones that had passed away welcoming me in. It was just this profound darkness, and it was knowing that I was out of the presence of God at that point.
[07:45] Joel: Really?
[07:46] Beem: My entire life, even though I didn't think about God, I was always in the presence of God, until that moment. And then, I was out of the presence of God, and that… I ended up coming back from that, and that was, I believe, October 19th 1996 was my very last drink that I ever had.
[08:08] Joel: Wow! Okay so…
[08:10] Beem: That was something that told me, that I had to look at how other people were seeing me. ‘Cause everybody who knew me back then, they just knew me as this alcoholic, this drunk.
[08:22] Joel: Okay.
[08:24] Pei: Did you have a job back then?
[08:24] Beem: That's where my ReLaunch comes from. Pardon me?
[08:27] Pei: I'm sorry, did you have a job back then?
[08:30] Beem: Yes, I did.
[08:31] Pei: Okay.
[08:32] Joel: How long were you out? I'm just… Thank you, by the way for sharing that.
[08:37] Beem: I'm guessing, five minutes, 10 minutes.
[08:42] Joel: Were you in the hospital? Were you flat-lined?
[08:44] Beem: I had gone to the hospital, and I had come home.
[08:46] Joel: Oh, my goodness!
[08:47] Beem: And then, they were even telling me at the hospital when I left the hospital, that they needed to check me in, and I was drunk and combative and said, “I'm going home.” And, I went back home and started drinking even more.
[08:59] Joel: Okay.
[09:00] Beem: Because I had so much alcohol in my system, I was like four times the legal limit of being drunk. And, I was a small, little skinny guy back then, about 130 pounds.
[09:15] Joel: Either way, just way above the legal limit is still, okay…
[09:20] Beem: But, they were telling me, “You need to stay here, because you're dying.” And like I said, I was drunk and combative, and I went back home, and started drinking some more, and that's all she wrote.
[09:32] Joel: Okay, well, okay. So, you had that, that happened to you.
[09:38] Beem: Yeah.
[09:38] Joel: While you were at home. Then, did you have to go back to the hospital? ‘Cause you were gone?
[09:41] Beem: Yeah, I did.
[09:44] Joel: Sure, of course.
[09:44] Beem: I went back, and it was at the point, they did some blood tests and whatnot and it was within that week I got into rehab.
[09:56] Joel: Okay, well, it saved your life.
[10:00] Beem: It did.
[10:01] Joel: Incredible! Okay, let me take a breath out of that. That is a tremendous story. So, on the other side of that, and gosh, Beem, I'm not gonna pretend to understand what that have been like for you, so I won't even go there.
[10:17] Beem: It was actually a positive thing. I mean, 'cause it completely changed my life.
[10:21] Joel: Okay, tell me about the decision. So, that was your, your last night of drinking. So, the next day or maybe, the next series of days, 'cause it was probably a long recovery, or somewhat of a recovery. When did you make that ReLaunch decision? Or was it immediate?
[10:40] Beem: It took a while. It was a… Several days had passed by, I'd cleared my head, got the fog out of my head, got into rehab. And, started listening to other people's stories, and it was about a week or so into that, that I realized, when I started hearing from other people, that what other people's perception of me had been over the last previous 10, 12 years about. That I was just a drunk and… That's when I… About a week or so after that.
[11:19] Joel: Now, let me ask you…
[11:20] Beem: Change needed to be made.
[11:21] Joel: Sure, sure. So, I wanna hear about the changes. So, definitely be sure to include that. But what are some of the things that you learned about yourself or re-learned during that week? And what was the most powerful of the 12 steps for you personally?
[11:37] Beem: Well, I'll answer that one first. The most powerful step was admitting that I was an alcoholic, because I had been drinking since the mid-1980s, early 1980s. “I was just partying, and hey, I was just having fun, I'm not an alcoholic. What do you mean, I'm an alcoholic? I was having fun.” That was the most powerful step. But the true powerful thing for me was realizing that I was not living, I was dead.
[12:08] Joel: Explain, explain.
[12:10] Beem: When you're an alcoholic, and nothing matters to you: Your kids, your job, nothing is as important to you as your next drink. That's death, you're dead. You're not living, there's no joy. There's no love, there's just people that wanna get away from you. And that's, but I was… I was into that. And I believe that God showed me, what it was truly like to be dead. He gave me that peek, and it was time to start living. What I really wanted to do, was I wanted to experience life. And I hadn't experienced life, since I was a child, since I was a kid. Maybe into my early teens, was the last time I truly enjoyed life, living the experience of being alive.
[13:02] Joel: Okay, okay. So, if we fast forward a little bit… Go ahead, Pei, you've got something?
[13:07] Pei: Yeah. Actually, I was on the same track as you are, really. I wanna see how Beem, wanted… Took what he learned, and sort of started to live, and get those time back.
[13:21] Joel: What did you learn about yourself first, and then how did you harness it? Like what Pei is asking.
[13:27] Beem: I learned that I have a… Well, I learned that I have a talent for writing and that's… Well, I needed to get into that. But what I learned was that… Basically, alcohol had become my God. Alcohol had completely taken over my life, and that's not me, that's not who I am, that's just who I became. And what I had to do was, take a look back into my past, and who was I, when I was a child? Before I started drinking, before I got into of any of that. And that person's still inside of me, that's what I learned. That person was still inside of me, and I had to reconnect with that person.
[14:12] Joel: Yeah, how hard was it to reconnect with that child?
[14:16] Beem: That was difficult, it was really difficult because it was, like meeting myself, and realizing that I'm a stranger.
[14:24] Pei: Wow! ‘Cause you haven't talked to him for a long time.
[14:29] Beem: For… 15, 20 years at that point.
[14:32] Joel: Well, that child was buried by broken promises, and empty bottles and many other things…
[14:37] Beem: Oh, big time, yeah.
[14:39] Joel: Okay so talk about that process a little bit, Beem, reconnecting with that child. Because that is… That is an important point there. And if a person is an alcoholic, or is a drug addict, or an addict of any sort, or if they're not, reconnecting with that inner child is a game changer.
[15:00] Beem: Yeah, and when you go into rehab, they teach you about the onion. Your whole life, your whole “who you are,” it's like an onion, that you peel away these layers, and the more layers you peel away, the closer you get to the center of actually who you are. And that's… That took me a long time 'cause there were just so many layers. I was so full of anger and hatred. This bitterness at life, because nothing had… Once upon a time, I wanted to be a rockstar, I wanted to be a musician, I wanted to be a baseball player, playing professional baseball, and none of those things worked out.
[15:38] Beem: And for me it was just, “Okay, if something doesn't work out, I'm gonna go out and party and drink and forget about it.” And it just took me a long time, to peel away those layers, and through those layers, like I said, there was a lot of anger and hatred and bitterness. And what I'd come to learn, when I got to the bottom was that, where I thought I was angry and full of hatred at this person or that person, it was more towards me. It was a personal hatred. And at the end of the day, what I found out was that I didn't like me.
[16:12] Joel: What was that discovery like?
[16:13] Beem: That was horrifying. [chuckle] ‘Cause if you don't like yourself, then how can you expect anybody else to like you?
[16:18] Joel: Okay. So, and I wanna respect your time here and we don't have enough time on today's show, to really give this story the justice that it deserves. But, okay. So, how did you start to fall back in love with yourself again or at least, begin to like yourself again, and then give yourself the permission to start writing? Which is what brought you joy, and then you ended up releasing your first novel just a couple of years ago, and then followed it up with a collection of short stories, and now you're writing, you're an independent author.
[16:58] Beem: Yeah, the first step for me was embracing sobriety. Because I had prior to that, I had gone to rehab a time or two before. And I had been in and out of the Alcoholics Anonymous program, and I always went back to drinking, I always drifted back to drinking. And this time, it was falling in love with sobriety.
[17:18] Joel: Let me ask you a question, why do, again, I'm not making light, but why do people, coming out of AA, why do they sometimes fall back? Is there… Boy, that's a loaded question, huh?
[17:30] Beem: There's no answer to it, there's no one single answer. Everybody's situation is different. They say AA is not for people who need it, it's for people who want it. And you have to really want it.
[17:42] Joel: Okay, that's it, right there.
[17:44] Beem: And for years I didn't want it. I'm going through the steps, I had a couple of drunk drivings, and I was court-ordered to go to AA, court-ordered to go to rehab. Okay, then once that's done, the court orders are done, I'm gonna go back and do what I was going before. Because I was having so much fun making a mess of my life and the lives of everybody else around me. I thought I was having fun.
[18:04] Beem: Okay, so…
[18:05] Beem: But it's… You have to want it and if somebody is in AA, there's a point when you first get sober, that they call the pink cloud or the pink bubble. Where everything just feels so wonderful because, “Look I'm sober now, I've got a couple of weeks under my belt and this is just great.” But then somebody pops that pink bubble. Something happens, and it becomes grey and the first thing somebody wants to do is they wanna reach for something to drink, something to numb the pain, or numb the reality. And for those people who really want sobriety, who are willing to fight for it, those are the ones that are gonna come out standing up. Those who don't really want it, they're doing it because they're court-ordered or whatever, they're gonna go back to it.
[19:00] Beem: But like I said, there's no one answer.
[19:02] Joel: I gotcha. I gotcha. So, okay fast forwarding talk about giving yourself permission to write, and also if you can help our independent authors understand how they can put wheels under their ideas, turn their ideas into books.
[19:21] Beem: Okay, well, the thing that got me started writing, like I had mentioned, that I had run into another indie author.
[19:30] Joel: Right, right.
[19:31] Beem: He was teaching a creative writing course, and I hadn't written, especially fiction or anything like that, in years. And so I thought, “Well I'll get involved in this course, and kind of shake the dust off, and see what's there.” And as I got in there, this guy his name is Steven Jees, [19:51] ____ he's got several books out. He basically nurtured me back into the writing scene, and without him, my book didn't get published, because he's part of the publishing company that ended up publishing it. But getting back into the actual act of writing, and being willing to… Oh, this is a big point too, was being willing to take the criticism. Where he tells me that, “This is really good right here, but this is awful. This isn't real, the character shouldn't do this.” And just pointing out these things, whereas before in my drinking days, if you tell me something I wrote is awful, “Man who are you?” I'm gonna take offense at that.
[20:38] Joel: Right, right.
[20:39] Beem: But embracing this new person, this new sobriety, and everything that opened me up to the criticisms, and being willing to, “Okay, I got my feelings hurt on this one, but let's try it again, the way he pointed out theses things, we'll try it this way.”
[20:55] Joel: Now was that a process for you right there?
[20:57] Beem: Oh, that was a big process. That helped me to become a better person, because it's not just about writing. It's taking criticisms on my life, on what I'm doing on this particular day or that particular day. And somebody might say, “Hey, that's not cool,” or whatever. Something I'm doing, somebody might not agree with, so they speak up. I used to get offended by that, “Who are you to judge me,” or whatever? Now it's like, “Whoa, wait a minute, I gotta step back and think this over.” So just that process helped me as a person as well, not just in my writing.
[21:33] Joel: I can imagine, sure. I appreciate you sharing that. Go ahead Pei, you have something that you wanna get in?
[21:38] Pei: Oh yes, I'm holding one question for the last. [chuckle]
[21:41] Joel: Okay, well let's go ahead and start coming in for a landing. Do you wanna ask your question now? Or would you like me to ask mine?
[21:47] Pei: Sure, you go for it.
[21:49] Joel: Sure, well I just wanted to get a couple of quick pointers for our independent author listeners. To the people that are tuning in, there's a lot of people that are working on their first book, and that is an exciting process to go through. So what would you recommend? How do people put wheels under their ideas and get the book writing process started?
[22:19] Beem: Okay, the key things are: Just write it. You gotta sit down and write it. You can't hem and haw, which I did for years and years and years. Jazz Baby took me eight years from start to completion; eight years, and it shouldn't have taken that long, but I had put it away for two years, “I'm done with it, nobody's gonna want it, nobody's gonna like it.” So I put it away for two years, and then I was convinced to get it back out and start writing on it again, and then I did some rewrites. But the main thing is to just write it. You gotta sit down and you gotta write it. But then, you've also gotta be… You've gotta get people who are readers, who are intelligent, to proofread it. To go through it not just looking for errors, but to make sure that the story makes sense. Pay the extra money to get an editor as well, that will clean up the errors, the punctuation or whatever if somebody might be lacking in that area. There is no shame to that, just get somebody who can clean it up and make sure that it's right. But to proofreader it is a big thing, don't be afraid if somebody says that, “This part of your story doesn't make sense with the rest of it.” Don't be afraid to… Don't get offended over it, look at it and make the changes. If you've got three or four proofreaders that are telling you that, “This doesn't make sense,” then be open to suggestions.
[23:41] Joel: Open to suggestions, love that. Go ahead Pei.
[23:44] Beem: Open to suggestions.
[23:45] Pei: Yeah. Well thank you for that, and another thing I wanna tell listeners, if you're interested in writing a book or becoming an author be sure to follow, of course I'll put up the link in the Show Notes page, “Follow Beem,” 'cause especially on Twitter, he's quite active, Voice of Indie. And if you see a little puppy face, it's definitely him, 'cause he actually… ” That's how I saw you, start to support other authors and…
[24:16] Beem: That's why I started the Voice of Indie Twitter. I've got another Twitter thing which is just BeemWeeks on Twitter. But the Voice of Indie, I'm out there promoting not just indie authors, but musicians, and people who write screenplays, people who have podcasts, and anybody that gives me a shout on Twitter, I put a link out there for them.
[24:40] Pei: Wow! Very awesome. So, here is the question. I mean, I haven't asked this question for the longest time. In looking back Beem, what would you say to yourself, when you were in a dark place, where you thought you were having fun, but you weren't really living, in your words?
[25:04] Beem: Yeah, like if I could go back and talk to myself back then?
[25:07] Pei: Yeah.
25:08 Beem: I've thought about that many times. First of all, I would probably slap myself. And I would say, “Hey, do you realize that you're killing yourself?” In fact, I wouldn't even say that. “Do you realize you're dead? You're dead. You haven't been living in so long.” That's what I would tell myself. “You're dead. You need to become alive again.” That's the bottomline, because that's what that was. It was just a, “You're wasting time. My book was published two years ago, when I was 45 years old. That's late to be a writer. That's a late start. I could have been writing. I could have had 10 books under my belt by now, had I sobered up a lot sooner or not even got involved in the drinking and all that. I could have started much sooner.” So, I would tell my younger self, “Start living. You gotta come alive. You're wasting time. We're only given a certain amount of time in this life, and you've wasted so much of it. And, that makes no sense: To waste time. No man knows when or woman, no man, no woman, no person knows when they're gonna draw their last breath, so live like… Somebody once said, ‘Live like everyday is your last day.'”
[26:27] Joel: Well said. Beem Weeks is our guest today. We'll of course include all the social media hotspots, including Twitter in our broadcast, Show Notes. We really thank you for your willingness to share and to give some great advice. Just go to joelboggess.com/198.
[26:49] Beem: I appreciate being here. I'm also on Goodreads as well. Just go to Goodreads and type in Beem Weeks, and you should be able to find me on there.
[26:58] Pei: We'll put a link on our Show Notes as well.
[27:00] Joel: Yeah. Let's be sure and do that as well.
[27:01] Pei: Absolutely.
[27:02] Joel: Fantastic. Beem, have a wonderful, wonderful rest of your day. Thank you for being on ReLaunch.
[27:08] Beem: Thank you very much.
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