One of the most bothersome issues I find in my writing is a lack of internal motivation.
Now, I feel that I need to clarify this statement. I have plenty of ideas, and I certainly have a powerful drive to succeed. My parents raised me with the core idea that I could succeed at whatever I put my mind to, as long as I was willing to devote the time and energy into improving my ability and making the necessary investments.
And you know what, random strangers of the internet? Things have worked out fairly well. I got into college on my first shot, plus a very nice package of perks. I’m soon headed off to graduate school (admitted on the first round of applications). I score at the top percentiles for most exams. I am financially stable and secure. I have a wonderful social life, companionship, and pretty much every basic need is filled. I can manage my money, have a medley of hobbies to pursue, am a decent cook, and am doing fairly well in just about every aspect of my life.
Please note, before taking too much offense at this preceding paragraph, that I am not bragging. No, quite the opposite – this is my issue! I have no trauma in my past, no tragic flaw, no corruption or demons within that I must battle, no haunted face staring back at me from my mirror. I am, to summarize, doing very well.
This really shouldn’t irk me. Success, which is truly what I have achieved, shouldn’t be a drawback. It should be something to celebrate, something to rejoice in and enjoy!
And yet, I occasionally find myself wishing that I did have some flaw, some character defect that I must strive every day to overcome. And my motivation for such a flaw is nearly farce. Curious yet? Think you’ve guessed the reason? Here it is:
I see other writers, other people in all different areas and fields, who can draw strength and inner focus from the challenges they have overcome. Through their conquering of their inner demons, they find motivation, courage, and remarkable insight into the human condition that allows them to insert depth and emotion into whatever they pursue.
For me, on the other hand, a spoiled upper-middle-class white kid, born an American citizen, raised in a loving two-parent family, gifted with a good education, and with plenty of career opportunities in my field – what insight do I have? I have not had any experiences with the rougher side of life. The closest I have come to tragedy is on the cinema screen. Knowing this, how can I hope to convey such depth and strength of feeling in my work?
I hope that, by now, you are actively cursing me. Much like a spoiled, petulant teenage girl, I am complaining because my life is “too good.” What arrogance! How dare I mock my success, spit in the face of the great sacrifices that others have made to raise me to this position? And I know, deep inside, that I am happy to not be fighting demons. I am happy that I have not had to endure tragedy, that my life is a cakewalk.
Yet still, sometimes before I drift off to sleep (in my own apartment, paid for in full, without debt, what a stuck-up ass), I wonder whether I have not yet truly lived.