Warning: This is a "serious" post. No jokes. No laughing. No slam dancing!
Motivation. Inspiration. Excitement. Determination. I have been feeling a lot of these emotions lately, and they surprise me at the weirdest times. On a hike with my little dog Manning, in the shower, or--more often than not--somewhere between 3 and 4 a.m. Suddenly, my eyes pop open and I feel a sense of urgency and a story on my tongue. Then, I usually go back to sleep.
As a writer by trade, I live with an almost constant impending sense of dread. My life is made up of deadlines, expectations, and inner-voices that say, "Is this good enough?" I have never met another writer or heard an interview with another writer who has said, "Writing is easy as shit. I sit down and write and it's all golden. Yup. That's my secret."
So, how do I find my motivation? What lights that fire under my butt? It's not sexy or interesting or mysterious. It's a simple choice. Either live in fear or don't. The world will go on around you whether or not you decide to raise your voice. So, why not raise your voice?
Well, it's work, right? Yeah. That's the rub. I'm currently coming up against a personal wall as I start to unravel what the script for this graphic novel will actually look like. It's not fun.
On days like this, when I feel my own internal deadlines closing in, I have to remind myself, "Nothing in life worth having is easy."
On most days, I can even find splinters of joy in the upward battles. The battle is always with myself. Can I convey what I want to convey in just the right way? Can I leave something original behind that is worth another human being picking up? When I am dead, what will I have put back into the world? Words, music and living with authenticity--with defiance--that is the goal. Really, saying anything is the goal. How many people stand on the sidelines because they're scared of what others might think? Scared of the uphill bumps of the road? Scared of failing?
I think of my work as "uphill" in the way that hiking a steep mountain covered in wildflowers is "hard." The scenery alone is worth the effort. There's cool birds and pretty waterfalls along the way. An inner-calling says "keep moving," so I wipe the sweat from my brow and breathe in the cold, fresh air...hard. That sting in the lungs means living.
The older I get the more I see that everything is life is work, and work is as joyful as it is painful. Love and relationships are work. Music is work. Writing something worthwhile is most certainly work. To me, "work" just means "not avoiding," the truth. Not stagnating. It means "not living in fear." To work is to fail, again and again and again. But it it is also to succeed--many times in the ways that you did not expect. The sweetest feeling comes when you find an unexpected treasure on your upward hike. How could you have found that little lizard skeleton if you had stayed comfortably on the couch?
Since deciding to take on this intimate project in January, I haven't gone more than two weeks without posting. This is not a herculean effort. But more than the writing--about life, love, music--more than being vulnerable--it is about pushing further and further toward the truth. I want to distill the most poignant, funny, joyful and bleak moments into something more universal, more useful, than a simple online diary.
After all, what is art if not a functional way to show others that they are not alone? What calling could be of more importance?
Sending my love to all of you makers, deadline destroyers and booty shakers. May your momentum grow as you keep on keeping on.