On Motivation (or lack thereof)

This short essay is part of a series called ‘Writing on Writing.’ This series takes a few different forms, and in this post, I’m discussing some of the things affecting my writing right now. Want to see content like this more often? Consider supporting me on Patreon.


I am writing this very reluctantly. Not because I don’t value all of you (because of course I do) and not because I’ve stopped liking doing Patreon (I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done). I am just feeling very, very tired.

I suppose I’m still recovering from Covid just a little, though my energy feels back to normal overall. There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life right now, too. There’s the job hunt, which is generally unpleasant, and then larger issues around the news and midterm elections and the general state of the world. 

I have this really bad habit of looking at really negative things on Facebook. There’s a particular profile belonging to an extended family member of mine that I seem to enjoy torturing myself with. I won’t go into details, as it’s unnecessary to put all of you through it, but I’m sure you can form an idea of what I mean. I tend to excuse looking at it by saying I’m ‘doing research’ or ‘understanding the other side.’ But really, what am I actually learning from looking at it? The particulars of pro-gun talking points or the newest anti-Pride rhetoric? And what do I actually gain from ‘learning’ those things?

In the end, all I’m doing is making myself sad. What’s so tragic about this is I’ve always liked this extended family member. Our interactions have only ever been kind, and they have always made an effort to keep up with me and check in. We’ve never been close, but nothing they ever said or did gave me the impression that what they’re really thinking is so negative. Because really, what I’m seeing when I look at that Facebook, is that they hate me.

That sounds extreme, of course. Like I’ve said, they’re very nice to me when we interact. Just a few months ago they reached out to see how I was feeling after my first bout with Covid. They tend to like my posts when they’re about things like traveling with my parents or school accomplishments. In fact if asked, they’d probably say they don’t hate me at all, despite the fact that I’m queer or pro-choice or any of the other stances they don’t agree with. But I also know that if they didn’t know me, if I was just some person that was described to them as being all the things that I am, they would say the most vicious things. And that is really disheartening. 

I think deep down what has me so tired right now is that I feel kind of hopeless, but not in a way that I’m used to. I’ve struggled with depression for years now, and that personal hopelessness is something I’ve learned to manage. This is a different feeling. It’s a lot less personal, but also a lot bigger. As much as I tell myself that the true majority of the country is more left-leaning, or that the only thing I have the power to do is live my own life the way I think I should, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that it doesn’t matter. It seems like the bad guys are winning.

I’ve always considered art to be incredibly powerful as a tool for empathy and compassion. I still think that’s true. But in my day to day, when I’m sitting down to try and work on my own art, I’ve wondered what the point is. It’s a really awful feeling, and so far, I’ve been very unsuccessful at talking myself out of it. Things aren’t all bad, though. For the first time in months, I’ve finished reading two books and I’m quickly working my way through two more. I’m going on walks by myself or with Peggy Sue in the sun, which I know is good for me whether I feel it in the moment or not. I’m applying to jobs at companies and institutions I believe in. I’m going through the motions, waiting for the good feelings I normally have to come back. And I’m sure they will come back. It just kind of sucks right now.

I hope you don’t find this post too depressing, and please don’t spend any time worrying about me. I honestly feel a little better now that I’ve gotten to the end of this, which I think says something about the value of my strategy. If I just keep doing the things I know are good for me, I’ll get out of this funk. It’ll just take time.

Love and gratitude to all of you.