Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to talk about how motivation affects all of us in one way or another.
Murder by Syllabub, fifth in the Ellen McKenzie series, is available in bookstores now. Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym was released in April 2016. Blood Red, White and Blue was released in July 2017.
It’s 2018 and once more, the winter Olympics are upon us. I plan on watching every event I can. I am never bored watching the skaters throw themselves into the air, trying to complete 4, or more, rotations before they attempt to land on a blade about the width of my fingernail, going I have no idea how many miles an hour. Or those skiers who start down a hill on two slabs of wood, their only guidance a couple of flimsy poles, to see who can get to the bottom the fastest and, of course, alive. Then there are the bobsled contestants, and the snowboarders, and…the list goes on.
Why do they do it? What motivates someone to attempt death defying feats, and perfect them? The years of training that go into reaching that level of perfection is mind boggling, so is their dedication to their sport. Where does that kind of dedication come from? What is their motivation? Money alone isn’t the answer. I’ve skated a little, and skied even less, but enough to know there isn’t enough in the world to tempt me to try what they do every day. So, what motivates them?
Motivation doesn’t have to be to accomplish the impossible. Motivation is what keeps us doing the most average, every day deeds. We’re motivated to get up in the morning because the baby is screaming, or the dog is sitting on our chest, licking us in the face saying he wants to go out, or by the simple fact that we’ll be late for work and the paycheck we receive is why we sleep nights.
There are certain things that will motivate almost all of us. Advertisers count on it. Beautiful plates of food, small children with puppies, or terrible car crashes with pictures of distraught people around a gravesite motivate us to go out to eat at a certain place, buy insurance to protect our family, or buckle our seatbelts. Common triggers to emotions we all feel, but they don’t begin to explain the more complex motivating factors and why they motivate some people and leave others shuddering in corners. For instance, there is no way I can be motivated to try a triple axel, or even a single. But I am easily motivated to plant more roses, or try a new recipe, or read a book by a new author. Or to write another book.
That’s another thing I’ve been thinking about. What motivates us to write?
I’m pretty sure it’s not the same for all of us, so I’ve tried to analyze why I write. I know it’s not for the money. J K Rowlings I am not. So here’s what I came up with.
The writer’s life, by the very nature of what we do, is solitary. We spend hours staring into space, thinking about people who don’t exist, trying to solve problems we have made up to confound them. We spend months, sometimes years, with these people. We know their lives as well as we know our own. Maybe better. We spend more time organizing their lives then we do our own. We construct the story only to tear it apart, let the dinner burn while we explore the motivation of why x wanted y dead, ignoring our more pressing motivation to remove the smoking frying pan from the fire. We get up at three in the morning because we finally figured out how to get that last clue to who done it to the heroine in a manner that makes sense, while in the back of our head we’re wondering if we remembered to get change so the kids have lunch money and if we took the soccer clothes out of the dryer.
Beats me. I only know I’m going to keep on doing it. For some reason I can hardly wait for the house to be quiet, and I can sit down at the computer and start pounding away. Someday, someday soon, I will once more have a manuscript, about 90 thousand words, where good triumphs over evil, or at least where the puzzle of ‘who done it’ is solved and justice is once more served, and hope that my readers will have enjoyed the journey I have taken them on as much as I have creating it.
Maybe that’s my motivation after all.