Given some personal struggles and time blocks over the last week that have stopped up the writing flow, I’ve decided to give some serious thought to what exactly it is I am trying to do and why am I trying to do it.
I’ve made a mental list of the reasons why I write and tried to sort through them. This is in no particular order.
Money. Well, we all need to make a living somehow. Maybe I could be the next to strike it rich on the indie highway (doubtful). However, I might be able to match my “day job” salary and that would be acceptable. The problem is I don’t personally find money all that motivating. I like the idea of it and wouldn’t mind having more of it, but it doesn’t get my fingers on the keyboard. I’d have to be pretty financially uncomfortable and then, such discomfort would probably only stress me out making it harder for me to write. It doesn’t look like money is going to do it.
Job Freedom. I’m not fond of my profession. I won’t go into what it is. It wasn’t something I would have chosen and it is a very difficult field to be in at the moment. I’ve been doing it about five years. I’d rather sit home than go to work. Who wouldn’t though? Is the ability to tell my boss “I’m outta here” going to motivate me? Probably not. What about being my own boss? That is certainly attractive, but I have a real procrastination problem. The reality is that I sometimes question my ability to keep myself on track without outside pressure. Freedom is enticing but yet scary at the same time. Losing benefits and regular paycheck is a bit off putting when the future can be a very uncertain place. Do I have what it takes to make that jump?
Personal Flexibility. I’d love to be able to stay home with my child. I like going to the grocery store during the day when it is less crowded. I like not having to take off work for every appointment. This is a convenience issue though except for the childcare. That would save money, but how much writing can I get done caring for an infant?
Looking at these reasons thus far I see a huge problem. They have nothing to do with writing. They have to do with paying my bills and being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. No wonder none of these things are motivating me to write – personal revelation!
Fame. Do I harbor a deep desire for everyone to know who I am and rave about my work? Not particularly. I’ve been writing a long time and have shared with personal friends and such and that has been fine. In fact, I don’t think I’d care to be famous. I like anonymity. In fact, one of the things I don’t like about where I live now is that I cannot go anywhere without running into someone I know. When I lived in New York, I never had to worry about where I went or what I did. The chances of anyone I knew seeing me were so remote I never worried about picking up a porno book, wearing ratty sweats or being rude to a sales clerk who deserved it. I can’t do that here. You can’t sneeze here without someone telling your mother-in-law. So no, I prefer to go about my business.
However, that doesn’t mean I don’t want people to read and enjoy my work, which finally brings me to what I have concluded must be my new motivation.
Readers. I must confess I love to read. I mean I really love it. I read for pleasure every day whether it be novels or non-fiction. I plow through news web sites. I used to read for a living as a proofreader and copy editor. I can also read fast so I can get through tons of material. I have favorite authors, many of them. I have dozens of books that I like so well I re-read them over and over maybe once a year. These authors have given me entertainment, pleasure and escape. I’m always on the lookout for their newest releases.
That is why I should be writing – to give something to people, to give readers something entertaining. I don’t really plan on writing the next literary masterpiece that will stand the test of decades and become a college literature staple. I suppose it could happen, but it isn’t a current goal. However, I think I would enjoy knowing that someone riding the subway is reading my work. It might be gratifying to think of someone whipping out their iPhone at the doctor’s office and delving into my story to pass the time. I need to focus on that. If I can bring the enjoyment that I have received from reading to others that would be motivating.