That motivation must be intrinsic for it to last. Extrinsic motivation, such as the thrill of getting published and/or benefitting financially happens too rarely, and doesn't occur often enough to keep feeding a writer's motivation sufficiently. The motivation must be internal.
A lot of people say, and some have said to me personally, that they want to write a book. Very few of those people complete the task. A book is a massive undertaking and can take an enormous amount of time and energy. Often people lack the time, or the energy, or both. They lack personal motivation. Writing must be a passion, the fulfillment of one's dream.
I remember trying to complete my first draft while I was still teaching in public schools. I would come home exhausted some days, with no energy left to write at all. But I would make time when I did have energy to continue working on my debut novel. Eventually, I finished it. It was such a big deal to me that I bought a bottle of French champagne to mark the occasion. My wife and I enjoyed celebrating that milestone, but I knew that it was in fact just the beginning, similar to attaining a black belt in karate. The Japanese word for black belt is 'sho-dan', which means, 'first step'.
Finally I managed to finish the first edit. I took a break for a while, as many writing experts advise. That way you can start a second edit with a fresh mind, one that will be more critical and objective. I had also created an inner circle and sent off my chapters to the members of this inner circle to read and offer feedback.
This is one of the most dangerous times for a writer, emotionally speaking. Having other people offer their opinion on your precious creation can be daunting, and some egos are more fragile than others. However, in order to reach one's goal, a writer has to be able to withstand criticism (hopefully constructive but that is not always the case) and even negativity on occasion.
A writer must believe in themselves and their dream, regardless of what other people say, and keep going until the ultimate goal of being published is achieved. Hence, while ignoring negativity, it is wise of course to take others' opinions into consideration. The initial feedback I received from the members of my inner circle was mostly positive, which was a huge relief, and it spurred me on.
Eventually I completed a second edit of my novel after applying changes that they recommended. Some of the recommendations I discounted, due to a difference of opinion, based on my own writing style, but I accepted the vast majority of edits that they advised. Now it was time to show it to a professional. This of course was even more daunting than obtaining feedback from friends and family. Now someone who was an expert in the field was going to be judging my work.
I had been doing some writing courses through an internet guru by the name of Rob Parnell. As he was a professional writer, editor and had his own publishing company, I decided to take him up on an offer in one of his courses to have my manuscript edited. As his responses to my chapters came back, I immediately noticed that the editing revisions he advised were on another level altogether.
Rob's critique of my writing style, my use (or lack thereof) of the 'show, don't tell' technique, the 'point of view' that I had employed, my grammar, punctuation, choice of vocabulary and so on, was much stricter and sometimes harsh. And rightly so. He was trying to make sure that my writing would be accepted by a publisher or agent. I might as well find out what faults there were in my book now rather than sending it off to an agent or a publisher, only to have it flatly rejected.
So far Rob has provided feedback on about eighty percent of my manuscript, and I am very pleased and comfortable with the revisions that he has recommended. I look forward to finding the time to make those final changes, and then sending off query letters to agents and publishing houses. It will be with both a feeling of excitement and trepidation when that time comes. But I remain positive.
Positivity and motivation go hand in hand. So many things will emerge that tend to dampen our level of positivity and enthusiasm. Life gets in the way, especially in my case anyway. When I quit teaching to focus on finishing my manuscript, I had the intention of dedicating one or two years to just writing. However, not three months had elapsed when I was offered a job.
Mandy and I had realized by this stage that we had misjudged our financial situation, and that a weekend job as a Christian wedding celebrant might just save the day. I turned it down the first time but was offered it again. I turned it down again, simply because I really didn't think that I would have the confidence to stand up in front of a hundred people and perform a marriage ceremony all in extremely polite Japanese, which is not my first language. Despite having attained fluency in Japanese, it is still my second language after all.
Unbelievably it was offered to me a third time, and I speak from the heart when I say that I felt the hand of God in this final offer. Who gets offered a job these days not once, not twice, but three times? The money on offer was good, too. No interview was required, either, as the person offering me the job had already heard about me from others, and had been impressed by my level of Japanese language over the course of our three phone calls. So in the end I took the job.
This immediately meant that I had less time to work on my writing. But I never gave up, or lost my motivation. In February I finished my third edit, but I still have some final revisions that need to be made, and I am still waiting on the last few chapters from Rob. However, over the last few months, I have accepted a new job. The man who hired me to work at the wedding chapel on weekends, left that job and has started a school within his Buddhist temple.
He wants to rejuvenate his Buddhist temple and make it more relevant to the community in which he lives. The school will teach Buddhist studies, Japanese calligraphy, tea ceremony, and flower arrangement, as well as English conversation. To this end, my friend's Buddhist temple school will comprise a separate school within itself, an English conversation school called RAC, of which I will be teacher and manager. Later, as the school grows in size, my wife will join me there, and together we will manage it, oversee the curriculum, train new teachers, and take students on overseas tours and participate in home-stay programs. Naturally, I am very excited about this fantastic opportunity – a chance of a lifetime. But it hasn't escaped me that my writing time has been reduced drastically.
However, I have not lost my motivation. I used to wonder whether or not I had made the right decision, but as time goes by, I have come to realize that it was the right choice, and that the job represents a golden opportunity, not just to me, but also to my wife, and it bodes well for our future.
I will still find time to publish my novel, write more books, and achieve my dream of being a writer. But it will happen while also taking on other challenges in life, such as this new job starting in April. Motivation has kept me going, inspiration still burns brightly inside, and my dream of being a published author is still very much alive and kicking. For those who know me personally, and who are waiting to read this book, I thank you for your patience. Please bear with me a litle longer, and wish me luck. I appreciate it. Enjoy the rest of your week.
See you on the shelf!