The Writer or The Businessman

It’s hard to get out of bed when it’s cold. Now, folks in Michigan might hear me say ‘cold’ and roll their eyes. Fair. But you must understand, we don’t have heat in old homes in San Diego so when it’s 50 degrees outside at night it’s also 50 degrees in our apartment. Under the covers it is warm and safe. There is a slightly overweight fluffinheizen laying between us. And all is quite soft. Outside the covers, however, – a knapsack filled with loose change, screwdrivers, and spare car parts swinging around with a centrifugal force so violent it’ll knock all our teeth out. That’s if we get up. We could just lay here. But external life factors intervene, as they always do, and one of us is left to perform the most hated move – a flip of the blankets off our bodies followed by a harsh exposure to the outside world.

Last week I was book obsessed. I mean obsessed. And this week all I can talk about is the loft.

I asked Alexis last night, while we were walking our Fat Dog, which “me” she preferred – Writer Kirk or Businessman Kirk. Writer Kirk is more depressive, but in a deep and moving way that is somehow beautiful.  I do things like listen to emo piano songs on repeat, read loving and supportive comments on my old blog posts, and write about all my old relationships gone terribly wrong. Businessman Kirk is more confident, outgoing, and always in action – making phone calls, planning the next expansion, and directing employees. There’s a rush and a charm to it. It’s intoxicating, like a character on a New York hedge fund TV show.

She said she preferred a balance of both because “she’s a Libra.” But when I made her choose, it was Writer Kirk. More passionate. Seemed more like ‘me’.

Last week I was willing to walk away from everything for this book. I would sell the business or turn it over to the staff and get an apartment in Brooklyn for three months while I finished the rewrites, holed up in the morning with hot tea and sunlight peeking through the windows, afternoons walking the streets looking for character details.

This week I’m thinking about doing a million dollars in sales next year. I can still do the writing on the side but it’s not taking me over anymore.

I cannot be both at the same time. There are factors outside my control that determine who I am in any given moment. The best I can do is try to track and predict and make the most of each version.

There were a few influences leading up to this most recent transition. First, my editor started in on the book. By the end of the first day there were as many red marks as there were periods. Omit. You already said this. If this is the case then why did you say otherwise on page 26? Might want to rework this. Delete ‘them’. Replace ‘a’ with ‘an’. That was the first rip in my sail. So many tedious little details.

“Does she hate my book?” I asked Alexis after every email from Google Docs telling me there were more suggestions.

“I think I just need her to occasionally comment on something that she likes, to even it out.”

I am actually very pleased at her thoroughness. The edits tell me she is worth every penny and going to help me make a great book. The story was always strong but she’ll help me clean up the grammar and make it a better crafted piece of work. Which makes me incredibly grateful. And yet, a side effect probably all too common to editors dealing with sensitive writers, the sight of all the red marks serve the same reminder as the cold air outside our comforter – work lies ahead. If I thought I was going to write one draft and it would come out perfectly as a NYT best seller then I had no business writing in the first place.

It was a cloud. The space that I created to write and drudge through the past, opening old wounds, tearing new ones, and reflecting on who I was and who I am now. It was cathartic and a gift from the other dimensions that sometimes visit me and help me along with things that are more important than what I’m normally doing. And part of me wanted to be in that cloud forever. To live in a constant state of emotion and introspection. These edits mean business. They mean work. I have to be ready to pick the work apart. To tear through flaws without regard to feelings and operate meticulously to create something even better. There’s a harshness to it. And that’s the dilemma of an artist – to transition from the creative flow into the executioner that is going to destroy everything beautiful you felt in the name of perfection.

Another factor that has taken me away from the book is the new loft. It’s shiny and beautiful and three days ago I was asking if it existed and now today I’m putting in an offer. How does that happen? I spent all day yesterday on the phone, in meetings, making calculations, talking to friends and advisors. I felt like I got nothing done, certainly not from a creative standpoint, and so many of my days will look like this if we build out another studio. But I have a vision for it just like I have a vision for the book. And while they can’t happen at the exact same time I think they can both happen. Because I need a place to go for each personality. A fully fleshed out set of lives I can step in and out of.

The last thing – a phone call I received yesterday from a marketing agency out of Santa Monica. They have a lot of clients in San Diego and are looking for a content partner. A company that can handle 20-30 jobs a month. One with their own space (or spaces!) that had an industrial feel. The clients were mostly beauty, health, and fitness. They wanted a combination of product flatlays and lifestyle imagery. I thought the woman was trolling me at first as she was basically describing our company. I almost asked if the call was going to end with me having to pay for some service. All too perfect. But they were real, and I sent the proposal last night.

On Friday, I am talking to my editor. She’ll probably tell me how much she’s enjoying the story and share so many ideas on how to make it better All my paranoia will disappear and I’ll become very excited. I’ll spend all weekend with the book because I won’t have any other choice. And come Monday, there might be lease documents drafted that I need to sign. And the book will sit. Until maybe Wednesday, when I think of a better way to describe the scene of my evenings four years ago in Brooklyn, watching True Detective with Jenny and talking to Alexis on the phone.

I imagine all of it spread around me in a circle. Little piles of things. I have a broom and I am sweeping it closer. Only I have to jump from pile to pile, I can’t just bring one all the way in. As I turn, so does my focus. But everything is being pulled into the center and one day it’ll all connect. And in that connection I will have found a greater sense of self, someone who can move swiftly and fluidly in all directions without the restrictions of compartmentalization.

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