Back in the day, when the world and I were young, there was only one Elvis my generation cared about and who could gain the unanimous approval of the student union bar. Elvis Costello, singer songwriter nonpareil. And Elvis once said, if memory serves, that the only true emotions he ever really felt were bitterness and jealousy.
I like to think I have a slightly broader emotional palate than that, though I do see where he was coming from – I would say that the emotional range he described was that of a very young person. I remember the days when I used to get jealous when other writers achieved success and bitter if I was rejected by an agent or publisher, or if a story I’d written failed to win a competition.
These days I waver between being pleased or indifferent when other authors taste success and as for bitterness – well, I’ve accumulated that many rejection slips over the years I could paper my house with them and make a start on your lounge – they just don’t sting any more. I’ve learned just to count the successes, and ignore the failures. And thankfully there have been some successes.
These days I’d say a big pair of emotions for me are guilt and laziness. Is laziness an emotion? Well I certainly feel lazy a lot of the time so I’m saying it is.
The way this pair work is like a tag wrestling team. The other day I was planning to go out running for example, but it was bitterly cold out and frankly I couldn’t be bothered. Yet I knew I should and had promised myself I would. So there we had guilt in the blue corner and laziness in the red corner, seconds out, round one.
In the end I went for the run. When I got back I couldn’t feel my face for a whole hour. It was still there though, I checked in the mirror.
The whole business of writing for me is balanced between guilt and laziness. I am not currently writing fiction. I promised myself a break when Song of the Sea God was published. But that was four months ago now and I should really start again. I should, but I am too lazy. Yet not writing is making me feel guilty. The guilt will slowly build – do gym work, take steroids, until it is strong enough to get in the ring for the final showdown with laziness and whup, as the Americans would say, its butt.
At that point I will get back to it – until then idleness reigns.
What’s your motivation for writing?
Don’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God. You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.