I should be writing right now.
Instead I’m talking to you people about motivation while I watch a UFC retrospective show, and I’m lamenting on how Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Prison Break are both on downhill slides due to chronic failures to address any form of reality.
Flawed product or not, at least those writers are working. Maybe the problem is as simple as I’m watching what they’re working on rather than working on something you could be reading, and their work is sapping my creative strength. Instead of creating, I’m re-writing all of the astounding bullshit occurring on-screen and wondering how I can go about getting a series pitch in front of a Fox exec’s eyeballs.
Oh, look, Anderson Silva just put a hurtin’ on Nate Marquardt.
Huh? Oh, yeah. Writing. Damn idiot box.
It used to be I could write in front of the television. In fact, I almost needed to, as the noise made a welcome distraction. An occasional glance at an action sequence or flash of titty while the gears were spinning and the fingers weren’t was almost helpful, not hurtful. Now? Now I get the same slack-jawed, hundred-yard stare the rugrats get when they’re watching Transformers.
Wow, the Philly-Dallas game is close! It’s getting hairy for my fantasy team, The Magnificent Bastards, too.
Damn. I did it again, didn’t I?
So let’s talk about motivation. They say there’s only one motivation that counts: the desire to write. That’s true to an extent, but let’s face it: desire without discipline doesn’t amount to much, and without moolah — or at least results — to justify the discipline, it’s just a hobby.
That’s right, I said justify.
They’re replaying Forrest Griffin vs Shogun Rua! Sweet!
Whoops. I’m back. What’d I say? Oh yeah, justify discipline.
I still enjoy writing. I really do. Yet it’s tough to justify the time spent away from my family, my chores, and my other hobbies when there’s no result from the writing. While a cliché like “a writer needs to write” sounds really cool, the fact of the matter is it’s a load of pretentious horse shit. The truth is a writer needs to be read. Sure, there are guys out there with trunk novels they wouldn’t submit if their lives depended on it, but they’re the exception. Those are the guys who are happy to just write. The rest of us want to entertain you. The rest of us want the results of said entertainment, be it as simple as money and fame or something more emotional like validation and exhibitionism.
“But Mike,” someone always says, “you’re published! You’ve got stuff out there!”
Yes, but how recent? Restore from Backup took a couple years to sell. Brimstone Turnpike was five years in the waiting. Five. Years. That top secret book deal I mentioned a while back? The publisher is having some difficulties, and more recently has gone incommunicado. That’s happened twice before, and while I’m willing to be patient for this project, history suggests I shouldn’t hold my breath.
No, it’s not all doom and gloom. A conference call last week went very well, and now I’ve got deadlines. My German publisher is also willing to look at more of my work. Justification or not, I best muster some discipline. Basking in their interest and contemplating potential money is nice, but it’s exactly green in hand, is it?
I read how Neal Stephenson’s typewriter forced him to write: if he didn’t keep the keys moving, the plastic ribbon melted, which meant no more writing. That gave me an idea. Well, two ideas, but switching to Vista and having to hurry up and write between crashes and reboots would quickly get annoying. So, one idea:
A taser hooked up to my nads, to be exact. Every time my words-per-minute rate falls below a certain threshold, my baby makers get 10,000 volts. And there’d be a perimeter sensor on it, too. I walk too close to the TV?
About Mike Oliveri
Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.