I preach about motivation quite a bit to my college students, probing into their personal lives, asking them to give me the skinny on what is so hard about staying motivated. As if I don’t know. As if I am not such a person who struggles to stay full speed ahead with a project, a goal, a dream.
This isn’t to say I don’t share my personal stuff with them. I do, when possible and seemingly appropriate. I am the first to admit my faults, in hopes they will feel free to share their own. I also use humor as much as possible in the classroom since the population of students I teach still finds titles like “Shitty First Drafts” surprising and radical – and this warms every cockle in my heart. I help them laugh, so they can have an easier time with the grit and sweat of writing, and it truly is a gritty, sweaty endeavor.
A year ago, I was inspired by a friend or two to start publishing some writing, so I put my big toe in the water and ended up having two pieces quickly published by the same online magazine, Sweatpants and Coffee. It was so very motivating.
And then, I took on a personal writing project over the course of summer 2016 that ended up flopping; it just couldn’t stand up fully on its own, and that same boost of motivation came crashing down. So very fragile our little egos are, right? In fairness – or possibly to offer myself an excuse – I was working through some feelings about death, having lost a dear, young cousin to a fatal illness. And then, wouldn’t you know, my father-in-law was diagnosed with a rather nasty form of cancer (although he has made a remarkable and quick recovery), and then my estranged father’s health started sinking down the tubes. What a year.
But we all deal with this stuff, this gritty, sweaty, heart-wrenching crud of life, which is perhaps is why adding some doses of lightness and humor are totally essential. I will do my best to offer these moments for you, and for me, but in the meantime, you just might find much of my crass and sassy humor out on the Internet somewhere, as I seem to have begun a new phase of publishing. Check out my latest piece on Bluntmoms.com here. I am currently working on a second piece for them, too, entitled, “That Time My Six-Year Old Dropped the F* Bomb.” More later.
What I am learning about my own motivation is that it takes a bit of humor and fun to keep the juices flowing. And that one muse-killing factor in my life is my own damn seriousness. In fact, the juices have been flowing so well lately that I have been able to produce two heavier pieces that will be upcoming on Sweatpants and Coffee and Mutha magazine.
Another thing I am taking in from my students and my own experience is that roadblocks can be a total haze. Meaning, they can slow down any process or trick us into believing we’ll never make it out of the field of poppies wherein we’ve been aimlessly roaming. After all, self-deprecation can be the most poisonous nectar.
But there’s always a remedy. Finding your own just might take time.