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Why even bother?
Lessons from a small time 'creator'. Part III: On motivation.
By 2010 humanity produced 130 million unique books
that we know of. Internet and accessible technology (cameras, computers and software) caused an absolute explosion of everything. Here are four estimates:
51 million YouTube channels; 29k with more than a million subscribers,
10 million of blog posts per day,
4 million of (self-)published books annually.
Bizarre numbers! Now just imagine all the Insta stories, tweets, TV series, newspaper articles on top. We produce shitloads. No wonder I often self-doubt. Does the world really need another blog? Another library of recipes? Another short story?
It does, because André Gide was right:
Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.
It takes a lot of motivation
to show up regularly and to climb on top of your hill. So, why people create and want to express themselves? Dostoevsky, after narrowly escaping death sentence and arriving to Siberia, might have answered:
My life begins again today. I will receive four years' hard labour, and after that will serve as a private. I see that life is everywhere, life in ourselves. There will be people near me, and to be among people – that is the purpose of life, I have realised. The idea has entered my flesh and blood. Yes, it's true! I have beheaded my lofty, creative, spiritual self. There are many ideas I haven't yet written down. They will lacerate me, it is true! But I have my heart and flesh and blood which can also love, and suffer, and desire, and remember, and this, after all, is life.
Or Van Gogh, an extremely hard working painter, a few years ahead of his time:
What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.
Both giants are long dead, and I cannot really ask them. Instead, I asked some of my creative friends: Why?
Punit Thakkar from India writes poetry weekly:
I bother because I make good friends doing this. They live all around the world and this makes me a global citizen.
Kristin Lueke from the US writes poems and love letters:
I write because I love to and I need to. I do it for my health, (spiritual) wealth, and well-being. I write my little poems and newsletters because I love seeking and making meaning. Because I love the way words sound next to each other. Because language helps us understand and feel closer to each other. I make time to write because writing helps steady my noisy mind—the practice helps me metabolize the noise and make sense, sometimes even beauty, out of it. I share what I write just in case it's helpful for someone, anyone else who grapples with similar questions and curiosities, challenges or ideas. I could go on and on (and in earlier drafts of this response, I did), but the truth is another poet already said it better (which is often the case, though that will never stop me from trying): Why Bother by Sean Thomas Dougherty.
Thank you for the goosebumps, Kristin.
The last but not least from my writing group is Graham Strong from Canada. He writes about writing:
I bother for a number of reasons. First, I think I have something important to share with fellow writers – something that comes from a unique angle and that will be helpful for them. I also find writing these posts to be enjoyable. Long-term, I bother because I would like to turn this into another revenue stream for myself. Who knows? I may even be able to turn everything I’m writing now into a book some day.
Because I find it really fun. Because I really like colors. Because taking photos is easier than painting. Besides, people who deal with art professionally say that what I do is art. Making art creates benefits because social capital and connections matter. Say I come to Metelkova broke; a refugee from Morocco will invite me for a beer and a joint, because he attended my exhibition and thinks I am great.
And I? I bother
because I enjoy playing with words and editing
my sentences. I bother because writing improves my thinking, and I bother because I like to ask, "What should we cook?" with my library. I bother because I like to test my perseverance, and I bother because I want to contribute and build. I bother because I am fortunate that I have the time, and I bother because I find it exciting when strangers like your work, too. And, finally, I bother because I hope to inspire others. Could this be vanity?
It takes courage
to publish and I applaud everyone! To the beginners: I admire your guts to scream into darkness; persist! To the established: thank you for inspiring us; continue! To everyone: forward and onwards! Never forget that everything must be said again.
If you learned something or liked this post, like it ❤️. Let us know in the comments why you bother? Or why did you not start yet? Don’t be shy!