I can’t write happy.
I also can’t paint happy, or draw happy, or build happy. The act of creation for me, is not a pretty or tranquil process. Nearly all of my creative energy is rage based. Luckily, I have an inexhaustible supply of rage. I’m like the incredible Hulk, except when i’m overcome with anger, I don’t turn into an irradiated green rage monster, I just write a few jokes and a story with a spaceship.
I can’t guarantee that this is the same process for everyone, but the tortured writer/actor/musician/artist stereotype is too prevalent for me to think my attitude is rare. Surely, a significant amount of great art has to come from a place of pain. Whenever I meet another artist I always want to ask them, where does it hurt? You can tell me. I’m like you. Trust me with the secret of your pain.
Am I wrong in this? I’d love to know. Where does your motivation come from? Is it a bad place? I know I do my best work when i’m feeling low. If I wasn’t deeply and enduringly discontent, I don’t think i’d write at all. What would be the point? If I never felt a lack, I would consequently never feel the need to create. I might feel a desire to create. I might feel an impulse to create. But I wouldn’t feel a need.
So what is it that I lack? I don’t know. I don’t even especially care. I’m not saying that my life is lacking shitty spaceship stories, and that’s why I like writing shitty spaceship stories. I’m saying that my life is missing something, and writing stories helps me fill that gaping and as yet unidentified hole. It’s my coping mechanism against all the inequities that assail me throughout the day. My job sucks. I’m getting older. My hair is thinning. I’m not clever enough, or smart enough, or strong enough. But, BUT if I write something, I can escape into that for a little while, and when it’s done maybe just maybe someone someday will read it and smile. That’s pretty cool.
Fear not gentle reader, this isn’t meant to be a cry for help. It’s more of a sincere confession given in the hopes that you’ll indulge my nosy curiosity. It’s not like I struggle with depression. I might wallow in it a little. Bask in it. Bring it into the shower, soap it up and rub against it because it feels nice. But I don’t struggle with it. I like being discontent. I like that it keeps me focused and driven and striving for my goals. I like going all Nietzsche and gazing into the abyss, because someday, eventually when the abyss gazes back, I’m going to be able to hold my head up and say yeah, look at me mother fucker. Look what I did. Look what I created.
So what about you? Why do you do it? Where does your motivation come from? Why do you create?