I don’t talk about myself much, to others in conversation, or on this blog in writing.
I’m happy to talk about Old Money values, or discuss culture, history, philosophy, or current events. I have a keen interest in style–I would not call it fashion–and a passion for public policy–which I would not call politics.
As spartan as many parts of my life are, I do get a sense of fulfillment–bordering on a religious experience–when I am exposed to and enjoy the finer things the world has to offer: a good book, a good liqueur, a good cigar (once or twice a year now) or a good meal. A recent lunch at Le Train Bleu (below) comes to mind.
So when I’m asked what motivates me, as I was recently, I’m at a loss. Any other person in my position and in their right mind (!) would be waking up at the crack of noon, enjoying a luscious salmon filet at the local cafe, perusing the local newspaper over a coffee or a cognac, and then rolling into the first or eighth arrondissement to get a second fitting on a bespoke something or other. Evenings would be spent at dinner parties or hotel bars, reminiscing with old friends or whooping it up with new. Then rolling it back through narrow, empty streets in the pink, predawn hours, slipping into a cozy pied a terre, and plopping a lazy butt between 600 thread count sheets for a long night’s sleep. Then, you know, lather, rinse, repeat.
Not that I’m completely innocent or unfamiliar with the aforementioned, but most early mornings find me here, bleary-eyed and rumpled, perched uneasily over a keyboard like a weary, wary crow on a telephone line, kicking the keyboard for this labor of love, or grinding out revisions on the novel, the next big work in progress. The day rolls on with efforts to promote the book, secure financing for the film and television projects, and find a music publisher for the original songs.
Increasing workload notwithstanding, I’m not sure I’d categorize myself as ambitious. My uneven but relentless labors spring more from some vague compulsion and a definite sense of duty.
The compulsion is common to many writers. I think the original Lord Byron once said he’d go mad if he didn’t write. (He was famously described as being mad, bad, and dangerous to know anyway.)
The current incarnation, The Good Lord Byron of Paris, is pretty sure he’d go mad, too. (The moniker was recently bestowed upon me by ‘Marie Ellen Case’, one of our contributors, and I accept it with humility, grace, and gratitude, tongue firmly planted in cheek, wink firmly following nod.)
Writing is like a terminal case of the stomach flu, in which vomiting words gives provides welcome, but only temporary, relief. The next unpredictable, violent bout is never far in the future. There is an ominous, very real sense of dread. But it feels so good once it’s finished! And, unlike nausea, the results can be rewarding.
Duty, as I’ve said, is a real thing. More than one generation before me have labored long in the past and planned far into the future so that I might have the luxurious option of quiet contemplation in a distant land. I’m obligated to honor such foresight and generosity. I endeavor to produce work that benefits others as well as myself. The latest, and probably last, in a line of journalists, editors, and newspaper publishers, it is no surprise to anyone who knows me that I write. Ink flows through my veins.
My responsibility is write well and make sure my work is available to help and entertain as many people, in as many formats and media, as possible. So, as I continue to steal your attention, assault consumerism, batter complacency, and murder the status quo, even the most astute detective would be hard-pressed to ascertain a motive.
I’m simply a rogue, a revolutionary, a rascal, a criminal, making the most of any opportunity.
4 thoughts on “Motive and Opportunity”
When you have doubts about motivation think of the words to “ Wear Sunscreen “ by Mary Schmich:
‘ Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what to do with your life….
the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t ‘
I too still don’t. I simply am what I am.
However, I could be motivated to have coffee and a laugh on Tuesday 10th. Let me know if you’re similarly motivated. I know a place in the Marais.
Thanks, David. Great lyrics! We’ll rendezvous when you return, and I have my head back above water. – BGT
Excellent point. Work is rewarding in and of itself, might come from the whole protestant work ethic thing. Being able to do work which invigorates you is rare and should be embraced. We have the ability and duty to focus on what we love and what we can bring to the world, and if those toils should bring nice things along with them then even better.
Good call, Jon. Well said. – BGT