Reinventing Myself

Spring is time to refresh and renew, time for cleaning and clearing and starting over. This season, I’m taking the concept beyond the closet and the garage, beyond even the many rooms of my own internal mansion, and have embarked on a path I first imagined taking as a lad in school, when I became aware that behind each great and sometimes impenetrable work of literature I had to digest was the story of a real person.

As it turned out, most writers of the classical and modern literature I studied were men, and disproportionately damaged ones, at that. But the back stories of their lives always seemed interesting and sometimes transcended the stories they wrote themselves. Authors seemed larger to me, and more heroic than the masses of other men from every epoch, who invariably led lives of quiet desperation.

In all likelihood, the chances of my story ever inspiring some youngster the way Byron or Twain or Homer or Hemingway lit certain fires in me are … well, as a correspondent of mine likes to put it — vanishingly small. But I am desperate to live what remains of my life driven by inspiration rather than by fear or desire, to reach for the best within me and not grasp at some external vision of success, or worth, or meaning.

To these lofty ends I have begun to receive my first commissions working as a freelance journalist. This month I’ve got a piece published in the Bay Area-based computer magazine Mac|Life, the print edition (May 2008) of which is on newsstands now. An extended online version of my interview with Wired magazine editor Leander Kahane should have a hyperlink within days. I’ll update it here when it goes live.

Next month, my contribution to a feature-length piece on the Apple iPhone SDK is scheduled to hit, and in July you’ll be able to read my reviews of gear ranging from a home media server, to a hand-held scanner, music-enhancement software and a bluetooth-equipped iPod boombox.

Tomorrow morning I’m interviewing Olympic swimmer and world-record holder Natalie Coughlin, who collaborated on the design of a waterproof case and headset for the iPod mini and produced her own swim training program.

It’s all part of an exciting change of direction for me after an abortive and largely unsatisfying foray into the realm of technology start-ups and corporate sales quotas.

I hope I Just Have To Say readers will check out my online writing for Mac|Life and leave comments or diggs to help the editors there understand what a valuable resource they’ve come into, and I encourage as well, subscription to this blog’s RSS feeds for both posts and comments so as not to miss any of the action.

Who knows, if I can get enough paid freelance work I might write a novel that could one day pop out of some school kid’s Norton Anthology and steer him or her toward a life of the mind and the heart.

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