Kirvin on Writing

The journey of a reluctant writer

Friday, May 26, 2006


Yes, I’m at it again. I know I shouldn’t be, and therein lies the problem.

Here’s the thing. I quit writing some time ago. I’d been in a slump for a while, and then figured, hey, why not make this permanent? I’ll get as none writing as I was getting anyway, but wouldn’t have to feel guilty about it.

As it happened, this coincided with a hardware failure (gasp!) on my Treo. My headset jack was busted, and I found myself sans podcasts for the two weeks it took Sprint to ship, lose, and then reship a replacement. (Don’t get me started, this blog isn’t remotely about mobile tech.)

The long and the short of it was I was forced to be alone with my thoughts. Free of distractions. Able to hear myself think.

Which is never a good thing.

I started thinking about why I wrote. Or didn’t. Why I didn’t write, but identified myself as a writer. Slowly, the truth started to sink in on me.

I’ve always felt I was destined for greatness. Well, at least fame. Notoriety. I was gonna be somebody. A contender. Not a bum, which is what I am. (Sorry, Brando moment there) Growing up I was never satisfied with the idea of being “just folks” and living a normal, anonymous life, the way the vast bulk of humanity does. I was gonna be famous. People would know the name of Jeff Kirvin.

Writing was, by and large, a means to an end. It was something I’m good at, and something that some famous people do. I set out to become Stephen King, only without the whole messy writing thousands of pages of actual fiction. I had the stories, but the writing seemed like tedium, an afterthought. I’m an idea man. (Get live tunafish, and feed them mayonnaise…)

So once I realized that I wasn’t in it for the storytelling, it made the quitting so much easier to swallow. I was in this for the wrong reasons, and it tainted the work. I was doing everything for my own self-aggrandizement, even this “reinventing publishing” idea with serials.

Then this line of thinking kept going (I so need distractions to keep me from thinking). I started questioning everything about my life. Who was I, really? I’d thought of myself as a writer for so long, but that wasn’t really the case anymore. I work the IT helpdesk at a medium-size company, I have a few good friends, a loving family that continually accidentally forgets to invite me to family gatherings even though I live all of three miles away from them, I have two cats. That’s it, really. I’m not a mobile tech maestro anymore. I’m not a writer. I’m not special. I’m not destined.

I’m just Jeff.

And just like that, it happened. I found humility. I found zen.

I stopped planning and got on with my life. I don’t use any of the PDA functions on my PDA anymore. I keep my schedule on Google Calendar, my contacts in Gmail. I have no tasklists whatsoever beyond the tickets in our helpdesk system at work. I’m living my life spontaneously, taking each day as it comes, living in the moment. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and that’s okay.

And yet…

There’s a little voice that kept nagging me. “What about Between Heaven and Hell?” it kept asking. See, it’s been ten years since I wrote my first novel, and that little voice would still like to get it published. In print. eBooks are great, they’re my medium of choice as a consumer, but part of me still feels like I owe it to the book, owe to Daniel Cho and Susan Richardson and Jeff Frankel to get the book published “for real.”

So I started editing it, and along the way started to rediscover the joy of crafting fiction. I still don’t think of myself as a Writer. But I do enjoy writing. Imagine that.


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