September 16th, 2011


My true motivation.

I found something I find very interesting in a very unlikely place. I was browsing around, looking for something to entertain me, when I watched an episode of the Angry Video Game Nerd. Normally I find his videos entertaining to a degree, but I'm not a big fan of the potty humor that he so often employs. This particular video, however, contained a scene that struck a chord with me.

The scene in question is when the two characters daydream about their motivations for wanting all of the coveted game carts in their collection. One of them wants to be recognized as having the best collection ever and winning awards. The other simply wants to place the carts on his shelf and admire them with pride.

I find this interesting because it perfectly mirrors my own feelings when it comes to writing. I've spoken to a quite a few aspiring writers in the past, as well as non-writers who have commented on my writing. The majority of them seem to desire fame, money, and recognition. The non-writers in my life sometimes comment on how someday I'll become a famous and wealthy author. They mean this as encouragement, of course, and that is how I take it. The truth of the matter is that I have no desire for such fame.

I could say "I'm not in it for the money", but let's be realistic. I am in it for the money to a degree. If I were not I would distribute all of my work for free and not bother with publication at all. A more accurate statement would be "I'm not in it to get rich". If I could make just enough money to allow me to write full time for the rest of my life I would be very happy, and this goal does not require riches. The key difference here is that, in my case, the money serves the work (I make money so I can write) rather than vice versa (I write so I can make money).

As for fame, that is the very last thing I want. I am a private person who enjoys his solitude. I do not make a habit of seeking attention if I don't have to, and being famous would bring a whole lot of unwanted attention. Were that to happen I could easily see myself retreating from the spotlight. Some years I don't even bother to show up for Thanksgiving dinner, preferring to dine alone. How do you think I'd react to crowds of people wanting a moment of my time?

This is why it comes as something of a relief that fame and fortune are highly unlikely in the writing field, barring an incredible stroke of luck which, from what I can tell, has next to nothing to do with the actual quality of one's work. We live in a world where talented writers who've created magnificent pieces of fiction toil in obscurity while absolute trash like Twilight makes it big. Personally that's fine with me, though I do feel sorry for the other guys who do want due recognition for their work and have to be constantly reminded that they're being beaten by a women who's produced books with quality I'd expect from the work of a middle school fan fiction writer.

So what does motivate me, then? Like in the video I linked to previously, when I think of becoming a published author I imagine myself placing a copy of my own book on my bookshelf, amid the collection of works from other authors I've enjoyed, and thinking "I've done it". My ultimate goal is to hold a physical, published copy of my book in my own hands and admire it with pride, knowing that, somewhere in the world, my work is bringing pleasure to people I have never met and likely will never meet. That is the true reward I seek.
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