Recently, I had to watch some training videos for work. In one of them, they asked a question that took me off guard: “What motivates you?”
What does motivate me? Why do I keep creating? What do I hope to achieve?
There’s no simple answer to that. Certainly, I have a desire to be heard, that maybe something that I say will resonate with someone and make their life a little easier. That connection, across time and space through art, is so important to artistic endeavor.
But then there’s the reality of wanting compensation for my work. There’s validation that comes with a payday for all the hard work I’ve put in. Some artists will tell you that if you’re doing your work to be paid, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, but in a world where money denotes value, if our work isn’t worth anything does that mean it has a no value?
And of course, there is the ego, that part of me that likes the little pats on the back I get for even my smallest accomplishments. I get a poem published? I get a pat on the back. I post about getting that poem published? I get more pats. Maybe its my way of proving to myself “I matter!” Maybe we have to fish for that encouragement because we don’t know how to get it otherwise.
And then, way off in the distance, is fame. The more people who are exposed to my work, the more famous I am. It’s a grown up version of who was more popular in high school, and even though fame is a pipe dream for most of us, does it drive me in some Hollywood kind of way?
I’m not writing this for answers or to solve a problem. It seems though that the question is more important, that we ask ourselves why we do what we do? What do we really seek? What do we WANT? And we continue to ask, assessing how our goals change, how we change. Even if our answers are uncomfortable, they help us be honest with ourselves, and they might even help us get to where we want to go.
What motivates YOU?