If there’s one question I get more than any other question, it’s “how do you stay motivated?” And there’s a very simple answer to that. I don’t.
I mean, I’ve put out a lot of work in this genre within the last five years: fourteen novels (fifteen if you count the one coming out in March), one novella, and three short stories. That doesn’t mean I stay motivated. Sometimes, in fact, I convince myself that I’m sick to death of the whole lot – it’s a lot of work, there is very little reward, and there is way too much infighting and sabotage done both out in the open, as well as behind people’s back. It’s not just authors feeling this either, but reviewers, site hosts, publishers, editors… readers.
Some days I would love nothing more than to climb under the dark cloaks of mainstream corporate North America and let an agent, a publicist, and a handful of editors make all the decisions after I’ve written, “the End,” including what colour tie I should wear at wherever they think I should be.
It’s a nice dream, until I remember the stories. My stories, I mean – the ones I’m trying to tell with the novels that I write. We have flexibility in this genre that allows for romance stories that aren’t just about muscled, aggressive, cocky men having battles of wit with buxom, beautiful, sharp-tongued women that ultimately end in sessions of throbbing intensity. Not that there’s anything wrong with those stories, because I absolutely don’t believe that. Obviously there isn’t, as they sell far better than yours, mine, or the next guy’s within our niche-genre, and whatever way you experience love and connection as long as you aren’t being an asshole to someone or something, you’re golden. However, if a cis-het traditional romance isn’t the story you want to tell… well, here we are, aren’t we?
So, stay motivated? Nope. The thing is, I don’t have it in me to keep going when the story isn’t enough to inspire me. I stop. I reassess. I tell myself that “this is it,” and I spend a lot of time on Tumblr and Netflix. I quietly grumble about the people in the industry to my close-personals and I make up long speeches that I’ll never recite about who, why, and what they did, when. And you know what? I’m okay with that.
Because the question shouldn’t be, “how do I stay motivated?” It’s, “how do I restart?” Nobody’s going to be “on” all the time, but if we want to work in this environment there needs to be enough faith in the story, enough craving in the heart, that it’s impossible not to get back to it. These stories are important—no, vital—examples of love. Be the OC a wolf shifter, a sorcerer, or just a guy at the gym, every one of these stories is way for our people to tell the world that this love is real, sustainable, functional, and normal. In the murky, questionable situations we’re facing these days, it is more important than ever to ensure that everybody knows that no matter how far we’ve come, it’s still not far enough if there is even a moment of discrimination or exclusion – and that we will not let these hard-won freedoms slip back into obscurity, either.
We’re not just authors, we’re prophets. Our culture is shaped by the stories we read, the movies we watch, and the ads we digest. With this information we can divine a future where inclusion and respect can’t be “taken back,” where love is the most revered gift of all, regardless of the basis of gender or sexuality. And we can make it happen because there is no greater weapon than the pen.
How does one not restart one’s self for that?
So, what do you think? Are you a self-restarter, or do you have your own special tricks that manage to keep you motivated all the time? I’d love to hear from you…
Until next time,
AF Henley <3
About the Author
A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley has been proudly publishing with Less Than Three Press since 2012.
For more information, please stop by for a visit at afhenley.com.