Wishful Thinking

There have been many o’ mornings throughout my life that I have laid in bed, fighting with the snooze button on the alarm clock, wishing that something would happen in my life that would make work go away forever.

We all know the old saw: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

Well, I got my wish.

I just didn’t expect it to be answered in the form of a debilitating lung disease.

I was hoping more for…oh, I don’t…newfound riches…being elected king for life on a small tropical island…alien abduction…just about anything other than what I actually got.

But as the new saw goes: It is what it is.

So now what?

Before the lung disease, I was messing around with that leukemia thingy for the past year and it had kept me and my family plenty busy. I was back and forth to the hospital so much and feeling so crappy I didn’t have the time or effort to do much more than sit around, take my meds, and feel sorry for myself.

But just when I was starting to feel somewhat like what I used to feel like before all that leukemia thingy…just when I was beginning to ponder what it was going to be like returning to a normal life (normal meaning back to the daily morning battles with the alarm clock, the cursed commutes, and, of course, work)…just then…without any warning…BOOM…the doctor dropped the bomb on me.

Lung disease.

A lifetime with the constant feeling of slow suffocation.

A lifetime of high, daily doses of steroids.

A lifetime with the constant threat of diabetes and of osteoporosis.

A lifetime with a degraded immune system.

And, by the way, a lifetime of no more work.

I didn’t see that coming.

So much for my dream of helping to build a small company into a megarich, international conglomerated corporation and becoming rich enough to buy a professional sports franchise.

I guess I’ll just have to stash that dream away with my other unrealized dream of becoming an international rock star.

It all still hasn’t really sunk in yet.

I’m only forty-five years old. Regardless of my disease, I plan on hanging around for a very long time.

What the heck is a guy who has reluctantly been holding some form of drudgery…er, I mean, a job…since he first started delivering newspapers sometime around the time our nation celebrated its bicentennial birthday supposed to do with all of his newly “free” time?

What the heck am I supposed to do with myself for the next however many years I have left on this rock?

Well, I do have other yet unrealized dreams.

One of them is to write.

Not just bloggery writing like I am doing right now.

I mean to really write.

To write books.

And not just to write them.

To have them published.

And not just to publish them but to write them in a way that people want to read them.

I want to write in such a way that enables me to be able to proudly call myself a writer…An Author!…and not feel like a creepy, amateurish dork when I do.

So that’s what I’m doing.

I’m writing.

I’ve written.

I’ve written a novel called THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR.

I’ve written a collection of poetry called POEMS FROM THE RIVER.

They will be available via e-book and pdf on (fingers crossed) February 19, 2011.

You can read a synopsis and first chapter of the book at bojiki.com/book.

But you know what? I wrote most of the novel and the poetry collection before I had all this free time that I now have. I wrote them slowly, sporadically, painfully, over a fifteen-year or so period when I was a working class stiff.

Now that I can fully devote myself to writing I should be able to blissfully write for hour after hour every day, right?

I should be able to crank out a novel every six months, or so, right?

Well, maybe…but, I have quickly discovered that writing fulltime is hard.

I am finding it hard to be disciplined enough to write every day.

It’s hard to sit down with laptop in hand…er, I mean on lap…and to think of stuff that other people might want to read.

I am finding that writing is like…

work!

Back when I was writing while I was still working out in the real world, writing was more like a hobby. I didn’t have to do it. I did it because it was fun…or at least cathartic.

It was fun writing crappy poems and crappy short stories and a crappy novel because I didn’t have to worry about feeding my children from the proceeds of their sales. I could pretend I was a writer without actually having to make the commitment of calling myself a writer.

Sure it stung a bit every time I received a rejection slip from publishers, but who cared. I still had a day job.

But now I have no cover. I have found that writing full time is hard work and I have no fallback position.

Well, I’m on disability so I guess I could always fall back onto the position of doing nothing. Do nothing but sit around, collect my monthly payments, and…

wait…

for…

something…

to…

happen.

Zzzz…

Who the hell wants to do nothing for the rest of your life when you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to recreate yourself into whatever you want to be (provided that whatever you want to be can mostly be accomplished within the confines of your home…and the internet)?

I have declared that I want to be a writer.

And I find that’s it’s hard work.

And now I feel a little exposed.

And a little vulnerable.

And a lot like a creepy, amateurish dork.

But I don’t wish for it to be any other way.

Because we all know to be careful of what we wish for, right?

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16 thoughts on “Wishful Thinking”

  1. It IS hard work. Lots of people do not understand how hard it is. Even harder is being published and getting terrible reviews by mean-spirited people who are jealous that you got a book contract, and they didn’t.

    If you are a writer, you really don’t have a choice but to write. There’s no fall-back. If you do it without expectations, it can only make you feel good.

    Good luck.

    Leslie (friend of Kimbro and Dave W.)

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    1. Hi Leslie,
      Is it safe to assume that you are the published writer you’re referring to who received the terrible reviews by jealous, mean-spirited people? If so, congratulations on your book contract. Can you share a link to where we can find some of your writing?

      Here are my observations in response to your comment:

      According to your definition of who a writer is, I don’t quite qualify to call myself one because, unfortunately, I do find myself having a choice as to whether I writer or not. In fact, by your definition, I would say no one would be able to call themselves a writer because we are all bound by the unavoidable act of having to choose.

      Now, I know that you’re just speaking figuratively when you say that “you don’t really have a choice but to write,” and I hope I don’t sound too dismissive of it or unnecessarily existential, but of course you have a choice. And thank God for it. For it is our choices that makes us who we are, that make us different, that make us special — not some undeniable cosmic force. And just like I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to consciously not have a choice when it comes to determining their course in life, I don’t think it’s possible to make a choice without having any expectations of that choice. Even the most ascetic Buddhist monks have the expectation of nothingness when sitting down to meditate. Sometimes our expectations are met, sometimes they aren’t.

      The simple fact is, some are better choosers than others.

      While I may want to be a writer, my ability to write is hindered by my exceptional ability to choose to do other things rather than write — some may refer this exceptional ability as a lack of focus, procrastination, or just being plum lazy — whereas you seem to have an exceptional ability to choose to write instead doing other things. Good for you, as is evident by your book contract and published work…bad for me, as is evident by my countless files of unfinished, half-baked stories and poems.

      It’s probably this exceptional ability of mine that also prevented me from being a professional basketball player, an international rock star, or an American version of Sir Richard Branson.

      Perhaps it would be safer for me to call myself a “thinking author” — that is, one who thinks long, hard, and often about writing but who does very little actual writing compared to how much he thinks about it.

      Instead of being something I blissfully do without choice, I regard the process of writing as I do exercise: I know exercise is good for me and I really do want to do it, but when I am out of shape, it is so hard to get up the motivation to do it. And when I do finally find the moxie to begin doing it, it is painful, embarrassing, and somewhat demoralizing. As time goes by, however, and as my body slowly gets back into shape and it becomes less and less harder to motivate myself to exercise, I find myself wanting to do it every day and for longer periods until finally I get to the point where my body is nearly as fine-tuned as it can ever be and if for some reason I have to miss a day of exercise, I become confused, irritable, and anxious. For better or for worse, that’s the writing process for me. I have gotten myself into great writing shape a few times in my life before and I loved how it made me feel; unfortunately, right now I’m a little flabby.

      I thank you Leslie for choosing to write your intriguing and provocative comment! :)

      And I apologize for my choice to respond with overly excessive and self-indulgent blather. :(

      Kurt

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  2. Have you read Three Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas and Micah Sparks; you might like it; the difficulty of writing as”work” is some of it

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  3. Hi Kurt,

    I am slow at keeping up with your blog, but then again, I’m not sitting around with nothing to do. ;)

    Interesting enough, I started writing 10 yrs or so ago. I should have started sooner, but I was too busy allowing life to get in the way. My English teacher in HS told me “If you don’t write, it is a waste of your talent.” I held on to that vote of confidence, and intend to finish my novels “some day”.

    I am excited for you, as much as I am saddened for your circumstances! I know you will find much satisfaction, as well as success, as you continue writing from the heart.

    Warmly,
    Tanya

    P.S. Next time, be more specific when you wish for something. =)

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    1. Hey TM!
      What a coincidence…my English teacher in high school also inspired me; but her inspiration was more along the lines of: Brindley, if you don’t start handing in better work you’re going to fail this class!

      What are your novels about and how long do you think before you’ll be finished with one of them?

      It’s always great to hear from my Varen family. Please tell everyone hello for me.

      Take care TM!
      Kurt

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  4. You answered my question. I do not have a choice. I write because I am a writer. If I stop, I stop sleeping and lose a part of myself.

    You, on the other hand, have a choice; if agent after agent rejects you, you can do something else. I can’t. I write.

    Fortunately, I get plenty of positive feedback, so my spirit doesn’t break.

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  5. Wow Leslie! If your photography is any indication of your writing, it’s no wonder you get plenty of positive feedback. It’s very captivating. I’m looking forward to spending some time with your blog and working through the links leading to your other writings.

    Have you done any collaboration with the Charm City Cake guy?

    Congratulations on your success as, not just a writer, but as a photographer, musician, baker, teacher, lifelong learner. Seems to me that you made some pretty good life choices along the way.

    Kurt

    BTW, since most of Dave W’s friends that I know are only able to communicate in grunts and foot stomps, I’m guessing your association with him comes through his much better half. :)

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  6. Wow! Kurt, I am so sorry to hear about the latest round of crappy news. I continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. You seem to be in good spirits and have a nice attitude about your new lifestyle. Count your blessings and keep plugging away at the writing. I love, love, love to read! Make your stuff available on Kindle and I will read it even more quickly! :)
    Love to you and your family.

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    1. Hi Jill,
      Thanks so much for your continued thoughts and prayers–they give my family and me strength and encouragement. I enjoy keeping up with you on FB. I especially like your updates about the antics going on in your classroom.
      Love to you and your family as well and prayers for your mother as she fights her own cancer battles.
      Kurt

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  7. morrowish- yep lung disease- teeny bummer there- but go back and read again of what you have just written, you wrote a lot- a lot about having a lifetime of certain things- certain illnesses- but “lifetime” is good no? to have a life to experience anything in is still good yes? you have a choice – to dwell and feel miserable about it- but would it change things- you cant control what is going on inside your lungs- but what goes on inside your head- is the one thing you can change, manipulate and use to your advantage. that said- i dont have any problems with someone getting things off their chest (if only-eh) this is what blogs are for- and hope you dont mind me coming on here and being an outspoken old trout- what i said is said out of good intention and a desire to help- because at the root of it all- i know it must be really difficult but youve done amazingly well- dont forget that kiddo and its so important not to slip down a dark hole- stay in the light babes.

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  8. good luck on your writing journey- this is a good idea- I have found your tweets and blog posts easy to read and interesting- i think you will be a good writer. I also think- that to focus your mind on a goal of endeavour (cat spell that word but have no inention of looking it up) learning, and advancement will be a good thing to do- I am trying hard to be a painter- so i can understand what its like to want to try at something- to have hope and dreams. we all need dreams- and all need something to aspire for- illness shouldnt be a barrier to this- not if you are able to do it- even if its only a bit each day.
    i will keep you up to date with my paintings too if you like- im improving all the time- one day I want to hold a local exhibtion where poeple can come and view my paintings- and of course hopefully they will say wow these paintings are so good”lololol- but i warn thee- doth taketh an awful loteth of work- and takes a long time does the art/creative lark to produce anything worth while for public consumption- but i can tell from your blog that it will happen for you and you are able to do- there must be a reason- why i have come onto this blog- out of thousands of others- and i think this is because i knew you had more to say about things than just cancer- which is a big thing to talk about- but you talked about other issues surrounding it- it fair blew me away when you recmmended that front line video- couldnt believe you did that- anyway- ill stop waffling now- i like to write too- have you noticed? lololllol-

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  9. im really sorry- i just have to say one more thing- because if i dont say it now ill be too lazy to come on again specifically to say it

    here are my tips for writing- working alongside illness (though dont know about illnesses in terms of diseases/life threatening illness-ok)

    you may find that you have a small window each day to work in- realistically where you feel almost normal enough to work- this may be in the morning- – so i suggest- you do writing in the morning- or in that time where you feel ok
    people tend to get tired in afternoons even when they arent ill- mornings are always the best time to work in- particularly in the first hour or two after waking.

    unless you have meds that need to work first etc-

    have a routine of working and stick to it as consistency is the key- working one hour a day is going to pay more dividends than having a big spurt of five hours one day a week- because its not consistent- a plant that is watered a lot sometimes- but left without any water at all the rest of the time will not thrive- to have a plant flourish and grow it needs watering and feeding consistently- this is the same i find with creative work. work as routinely and as consistently as you can- even if its only half an hour a day-

    of course there will be days where you cant- too busy-

    it should go wihtout saying- but ill say it anyway- just dont work at all if yu dont feel well enough- besides the fact that you shouldnt put pressure on yourself- what work you do when you dont feel ok will be rubbish anyway- quite frankly- so dont even bother-lol- give it up- and only attempt to work when you feel at your best if not- its really only worth chilling out-

    negativity is the biggest hurdle to get over in creative writing and creative work- just be wary of those thoughts such as, “who am i kidding that i can do this”,or “im just not good enough to do this- i thought i could but i obviosuly cant do it as well as i thought” or “im just not well evough it will never work out” to be honest- it would take me all day to write out possible negative thoughts- as they can be varied and numerous-lol- amazing how many the brain can come up with. but when these thoughts do arise dont trust them as fact- they are pure conjecture- there is no evidence to support the need to carrying on writing or to give up writing, so one should just carry on doing it as its a good thing to do and will make you feel good

    you just dont know what you can achieve until you give it a go-
    in order to achieve anything you need to give it a proper chance and cutting it off in its early stages is not giving it a chance. but some artists find it easier to overcome self doubt than others but i can guarantee- they all have moments of it- some poeple have such catastrophic moments of it they cut off their ear (van gogh) it is something all artists in any form have to work through somehow- its not easy

    you may- or you may not- find that some ideas dont work out– but you just have to keep going with changing and adapting until you finally find your feet and flow, this could be weeks, months or years- just keep forging ahead- the main thing is that you are working and have dreams and hopes.

    happy writing!!

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    1. Rosie Lee,
      Thank you for taking the time to provide me with your kind words, encouragement, and constructive insight and advice. You’ve given me much to ponder; and though I haven’t completely digested it all yet, from my first read-through I see that there is much truth in what you’ve said. I won’t try to respond to all of your points but I will say:

      You’re right, I probably am dwelling too much on my lung disease; at least, I’m sure, I’m dwelling on it much more than I did the leukemia. I don’t know why–maybe it’s because I was expecting that everything would return to normal after the leukemia; or, more likely, it’s because of the steroid-induced feelings of blah and anxiety that regularly overcome me like waves. But, no worries, I’ll work my way through this. I have a great support network from my family, friends, and from awesome comments/feedback like yours.

      But/and you’re also right about this blog being a place for me to get things off my chest. It’s usually not, or at least not always, my intention to be negative or rude here (Disclosure notice: One of my favorite sayings is (and as far as I know I coined it): IF NOTHINGS WRONG, THEN SOMETHING AIN’T RIGHT), and I really do enjoy knowing that other people are reading what I write, but ultimately, this blog, this web log, is first and foremost for me; it’s my personal journal of some pretty significant events that are happening in my life right now, which, for the time being, I am making available online for anyone to read or to not read.

      And you’re also right that I need to find a routine, a routine that accommodates not only my medicine induced daily ups and downs, but also my innate and overwhelming tendency to procrastinate. Fortunately, I have the time and desire to figure this out and hopefully get it right.

      And you’re right about many many other things.

      Thanks again Rosie Lee. Please visit and comment regularly. And good luck with your painting endeavors(sp?)! :) Is any of your work online? If so, can you share a link or two with us?

      Take care,
      kurt

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  10. Kelli,
    I just finished reading THREE WEEKS WITH MY BROTHER. It is a very good read. I especially like how it reminded me of two key points about life: life is about living, not about having; and the true joy from life comes not so much from what we do or accomplish but from the anticipation of what is to come and can be done and the act of doing.

    Because of all the tragedy, it was tough to read at times but I learned a lot from it.

    Thanks for the referral.

    Like

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