Yesterday we talked about character motivation. Today I want to talk about our motivation to write. Is it something inherent? Is it passed down to us from our parents DNA (not mine), or do we find it somewhere along the road of life?
Do we do it for the chance at fulfilling a life-long dream? Because you love to write? Are you a narcissist who only wants to see your name in print? Is it about the chance to make a boat-load of money? (I heard there was a 6-figure/2 book deal out of Harlequin for a debut author last week--doesn't that make you want to bang your head on the cement? Well it does me, and I'm nothing if not honest.)
I'll tell you my story. Promise me you won't laugh. It's kind of corny. Remember the Walton's? Okay for those of you who aren't old enough, (good God some of you weren't even born then) The Walton's was a drama on tv based in the
1940's. In it were, I don't know 6 kids (and don't ask me to name them, I couldn't) grandma and grandpa, Maw and Paw. Well the oldest son was John-boy (yes, his name was John-boy, this was a stab at wholesome family values entertainment and I guess it worked, the show was on for almost 10 years I think)...
I'm sorry I digress...Anyway, besides Donny Osmond and David Cassidy (and if you don't know who they are, you'll have to wait for another post) I was wildly crazy over John-boy Walton (not Richard Thomas the actor who portrayed him, the character himself) BECAUSE he wanted to be a writer. More than anything in the world. I remember the first Christmas show, John-boy got a set of legal pads and he just thought that was the living end. And of course it was a tear jerker show and that's when I fell in love with John-boy who made me want to be a writer too.
Yeah, I know, how stupid is that, but things were different back then, it was the
70's, women were breaking out into the world, we had just come through the sexual revolution, Gloria Steinam was burning bras, God my mother even went to college to become a teacher instead of staying at home with me and my brothers. I knew I would have to become something when I grew up and I figured, I had always gotten really good grades in English, and I liked to read (all the time), so why not. How hard could it be?
(I am now sitting on my office floor, gasping for breath, watching coffee drip out my nose becaue I'm laughing so hard.)
Any-hoo, I tried it, (still have the totally lame attempts at romance novels I tried writing when I got out of high school) had to become a waitress because I didn't go to college. Worked my way up the restaurant ladder, still writing but not really, started my own business, went to college myself, and that's where I learned about expository writing. That was the best -- college -- if I could do that all over again I would. I went to a hippie college in Vermont, it was actually one of the first long distance learning colleges in the U.S. and I had a blast. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I managed to, at the end, pull a not half-bad short story out of my hat. Now mind you, I wrote long hand and had to type everything up on my trusty Smith-Corona. That was 1996. I didn't get my first computer unitl 2006. Yes, it took that long. That was when I went absolutely crazy. I wrote until my fingers bled. That was the beginning of my finished manuscript. (My daughter also crashed that computer and I lost all the files so I had to re-do it when I got my second computer 2008, but thankfully I had written the first draft long hand.)
I moved to the Piedmont in '07 (had a series of unfortunate accidents, found out my daughter was very ill and also found I couldn't work at a normal job -- normal being standing, sitting, walking for very long periods of time which left out most everything in a restaurant) so I decided, if Stephanie Meyer, J.K. Rowling, Kasey Michaels, and Sabrina Jeffries can do it, why can't I?
I know, I know, not really tremendous motivation, and am probably doing if for the wrong reasons but you know what...for all the head banging and finger cramping and hair tearing, it's the best thing I've done in a long time. There is nothing, nothing, in this world I love more than staring at a blank screen and typing away, creating new lives, tension, happy ever afters.
Now that's my story and I'm sticking to it. What's yours?