Friday, July 18, 2008

A Question of Motivation

An interesting topic came up in the Horror Library's main office recently. The question was asked, who in that particular setting, would be the next success story. Wow. That is a tough question and one I think some folks were hesitant to answer. Why? Well, if they didn't mention their friends then maybe someone would have some hurt feelings. But, you know, if you asks me, maybe NOT mentioning their friends could be a good thing.

What? I've lost my mind, you all say? No, no, I haven't. Hear me out, I say and if you still disagree with me then feel free to call me insane. It won't be the first time and most certainly won't be the last.

Yes, everyone wants high praise and a pat on the back, especially from their peers. Do you think it wouldn't do my ego good to have one of the name writers out in our genre say that I put out something decent? Of course it would. I would be elated if that happened. But, would that change things? Maybe, a little. I think hearing your work is good and that you have 'it' really stokes the confidence.

However, a question such as who, in your own opinion, will become a success from a group of people you know very well can be daunting to answer. You see enough of these folks and what they can do to kind of gauge them and their abilities, but overlooking someone, even though you do not mean to, could cause those hurt feelings that you don't wish to cause. If you're honest with yourself and with them, you will speak truthfully, but gently in some cases.

I sat back when I read the question and thought for a few minutes before typing up a reply. There are so many folks in there that I can see doing really well for themselves. There are also some folks I left off, simply because of participation—or the lack there of. But, as I sat back and thought about those I left off the list, I wondered what it could do to their psyche, their ego.

Well, let's see, it could have upset them that they were left off and then they would never talk to me again. Or they could shrug it off as it doesn't matter. Or it could make them try harder so someone would believe that they could be the next success story.

Hmmm . . . let's think about that last part for a minute. They could try harder so someone would believe that they could be the next success story.



Hmmm . . .

I've asked this next question when dealing with people I've trained in various jobs and I think it applies here: What is your motivation? What drives you?


True story: Not too long ago—maybe a year and a half or so—I was passed up for a position I really wanted. I knew I could do the job but I guess I was a little green under the gills. I didn't get the nod and I was bummed. No, wait, that's not right. I was BUMMED. Yeah, that's more like it.

I could have gotten discouraged, and to be honest, I did, for about ten minutes. Then, I told myself I wasn't quite where I needed to be for that position. I then set out to work harder and get better. About six weeks or so later, the person who had gotten the position I so coveted, abandoned it. Within a short time of his leaving, the position was offered to me. I was elated. Ecstatic. Excited and other E words I can't think of at the moment.

I've since moved on to other things, but I hold that feeling I had when I got bypassed that first time very close to me. It is not a good feeling, but I turned it into motivation. It made me want things more, made me want to work harder to improve myself.

Rejection has a way of doing that, but I'll save that for another time. In this case, being overlooked for something you feel you are capable of doing can be just as bad . . . or good, depending on how you look at it. I chose to use the feeling as a motivator to push myself a little harder. Did it work? Oh yeah, it did.

So, do you see what I am getting at? If you want to be on the list as the next big thing, you have to work at it. But, if you aren't on that list, don't get too discouraged. Instead, turn it around and use it as motivation. A lot of athletes do it. So do business people. And singers. Why not writers? Why not editors? Why not publishers?

Think about what discourages you when it comes to writing. Take that and let it motivate you. But, not just in writing. What discourages you in life? Use it for motivation.

I leave you all with this:

Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.
--Og Mandino

I'm AJ and I'm out.

1 comment:

  1. You're so good at pointing out what's really important. And I feel honored that I was one of the people to make your list.

    You know, last night I was copying the stuff on my thumbdrive to my laptop (finally, working with it on the USB on a Mac can be hazardous as I found out two weeks ago) and I would stop and read over a story I hadn't looked at in a while. Most were starts, just paragraphs to a few pages of work, and oddly.. I really liked a lot of it. Some of it I couldn't believe I wrote!

    And I kept hearing this voice in my head---what I imagine you sound like, I suppose---saying, "See? You are a good writer so grab one of those starts and make it a finish."

    I also scrolled down your blog and noticed no one comments here.. because they all comment in the office or on the HLBOR, so here's a comment just for you, buddy. I think of you as my Mr. Miyagi---always telling me to wax on, wax off and keep up the hard work. :D Isn't that strange?