My name is Jim Steinberg. I am a fiction writer, hobbyist blacksmith, amateur rose gardener, divorce and custody mediator, and former career wanderer: lawyer (three times), teacher (several times), college program director (twice), stand-in groundskeeper (only once), and, somewhere in the middle of those travels, a wanderer without portfolio. Those vocations, avocations, and unshaped times have stretched my travel bag’s seams, wearing its sides almost to holes, but it is bearing up well enough to keep safe the tools that travel with me when I follow my nose down story trails: wonder, curiosity, imagination, intuition, discovery, invention, empathy, and a passion for language. I began to discover them more than twenty years ago. Now I try to give as much time to following my nose as possible, keeping my tools with me all the time.
As I said in my welcome page, it’s a solitary journey. Inviting you to chat with me would give me some company along the way. A small community of us would be even better.
What I Write About
Pretty serious stuff. Stories about everyday folks feeling isolated and lonely, making poor choices in marriage and family, struggling to heal and make amends, sometimes in unusual ways; stories about compelling chance encounters with strangers from whom something may be learned; simple tales of difficult passages and partings; in a novel, all of these things on a broad canvas with a host of interrelated characters.
I am especially interested in moving readers toward a gentle view of characters who feel driven to cross moral and ethical boundaries, even ancient taboos that deepen their sense of spiritual isolation as they struggle to find higher ground. For this it is essential to present an honest interior view of my characters’ difficulties. When they make choices a reader may struggle with, it’s just me following who they tell me they are. They don’t need me to varnish the truth with language of persuasion. Instead, I want my readers to understand them, feel empathy for them, even connect with them because, like you and me, each is trying to find his way. Perhaps it is about asking you, the reader, to try to give them unconditional positive regard, fulling realizing that like me, you may not get all the way there.
In a rather romantic manner, I am searching for the resiliency of the human spirit without trying to sentimentalize or tie up ambivalent situations with the pretty wrappings, ribbons and bows of fully resolved conclusions. My work as a lawyer, teacher, administrator, and especially a mediator has shaped who I am as a writer. Even my days as a somewhat shiftless wanderer (not all that many!) have influence on what finds its way to the page. It’s why I feel I have something to share…so long as I make much of it up!
I want my stories to have flesh and bones. Real flesh and bones with bumps and scars. I love the bumps and scars and try to treat them with the same fondness I feel for the sweet times.