Why do you do what you do? What motivates you? And why do you keep doing it?
For me life gets down to a few simple motivations.
I work because I want to get a paycheck. I show up and they give me a check that I can use to pay the rent, buy some groceries, pay the bills and buy a book every now and then. I also happen to like the job and my coworkers, so I count myself lucky. But those are luxuries, I would still have to work if those things weren’t true.
I pay my taxes because I don’t want to deal with the “botheration” of not doing so.
I write because…Well, why do I write?
That question came up big time this week. I got two rejections: one of my historical novella and another of my horror short story. That makes me 0/9 for my submittals, if you’re counting.
That same day, I got an email from my friend and fellow-writer, D—, of birdhouse fame. The email had the beginning of a story:
It was early Sunday morning when I felt he bullets pass through the fabric of my open jacket. The only thing that saved me was the faint glint of light reflected off of my would-be assassin’s rifle mounted scope when I ignited my Zippo.
The story continued for about 200 words and ended with:
I dove off of the balcony…
I thought, “What the F*ck is this sh*t?”
D— ended his email with a request:
run with it for a couple of paragraphs and see what you can come up with.
Now, mind you, this is the same day I got a rejection for the novella. I was in no mood to write anything. I kept ruminating on the rejection and opening the email. After a few hours, I said, “F*ck it” and banged out another 400 words to his story, ending it at a high point:
By the time the bolted lock on the safe house clicked open, I had pretty much worked out how it would all go down. Now all that was left was to put my plan into action…
And I sent it back to D—.
It’s craptastic writing, yeah. But you know what? I really liked it. I mean I enjoyed the process of writing it. And I loved collaborating with a fellow writer, which I had never done before.
Suddenly, the clouds of self-doubt scattered. I realized why I do this writing thing: because I like it. Because, deep-down, there is nothing else I could do that would substitute for it. Because it makes me feel satisfied in a deep way when I put pen to paper or fingers to type pad. And I like to think I’m not too bad at it.
So, to answer my original question: Why do I write?
I write because I have to. I write because without it, my life just wouldn’t make sense.
So, I want to end with a promise, two promises, in fact. Remembering my friend Epictetus, I promise you guys two things I can deliver:
- I’m going to keep writing fiction and publishing it myself, even if no one (no traditional publishers) ever agrees to publish it.
- I’m going to keep updating this blog to give you as much insight into the writing process as I can.
I hope you’ll continue to join me on the journey.
I promised to track views from new countries to the blog. This week, the blog got its first viewers from:
Welcome, New Readers! Along with D—, you’re keeping me motivated and focused.
The title of this post is from a Johnny Cash album. My fellow writers, friends and fans are “The Water from the Wells of Home.” They keep me going when things get rough out there.
Here’s the Man in Black himself doing one of my favorite songs, “Home of the Blues.”