I originally met Clive a few years ago. White-haired and wrinkled Clive was always happy and cheerful as he sat at his table at a local coffee shop typing away on a laptop. He smiled at all the females and joked with all the males. I saw him every morning as I grabbed a coffee on the way to work. I finally approached him one day and started talking to him. Just bullshitting, don’t even really remember what we talked about that first day. Finally, I asked the question I guess everybody who saw him wondered.
“What are you writing?”
I love meeting others with a passion for writing in real life. “So, where do you post them online?”
He looked up from the keyboard, “Why would I put them online?”
“To see what people think of them.”
“But I don’t write them for people I write them for myself. They make me happy.”
It was almost a month later when I finally talked him into letting me read one. I would love to post it here, but Clive wouldn’t want that, so you just have to take my word for it. It was great, maybe 500 words, but what he said with them was amazing.
I finally asked him to read some of my stuff.
“I want to know what you think of them.”
“What do you think of them?”
“I think they are good, not great, not publishable, but good.”
“Do they make you happy when you write them?”
This question which on the surface seems so simple to answer made me pause. When I started writing it did make me happy. The whole process of creation and making it into a story did make me happy. Now I get so caught up in editing and rewriting things that a lot of the time I don’t have that happy feeling. I told him as much.
“So why do you write if it doesn’t make you happy any longer?”
“I want to get better and get published.”
“Money and fame.”
He laughed. “Ian money won’t make you happy and being famous isn’t that great. Write for you, share your stories if you want, but always remember you are writing the stories for you not for someone else.”
Since then I would stop and bullshit with Clive whenever I came by for a coffee. Last week when I came into the coffee shop he wasn’t there. I didn’t really think anything of it, but he hasn’t been back, and I finally asked one of the people who work there. Clive died, from what I could learn peacefully in his sleep. I never even learned his last name, he was just Clive to me and so many others.