Motivation comes from odd places. It’s not uncommon to struggle to find motivation for oneself yet find it easily at the bequest of others. Personal trainers, coaches, teachers, spouses, they exist to not be let down. We project our hopes onto them, make external what is inherently conflicted, and are free to try.
Some years ago, I said that I wanted to write so my daughters would be proud. That mantra felt different somehow, more challenging, more inspiring, than trying to please myself.
Did I mention that my daughters can’t read?
An unexpected byproduct of this quest is the opportunity to fail in their plain view. As a physician they didn’t see the gloom of internship, the doubt of residency, the regret of fellowship. They’re too young to understand (I hope) what the stakes are in my day job.
Writing though, they kind of understand. They get stories. They speak story. They play, breathe, sing, dance, and otherwise subsist on story. They understand someone liking a story and they understand not liking a story. (e.g., five minutes from the end of Disney’s Hercules one turned to me and asked what was happening. I couldn’t blame her).
Weirdly enough, sharing the hopes and disappointments—submission and rejection, an honest BlackList critique, an idea that I can’t make work—is comforting with a four-year-old at my side. I highly recommend one.
Failing and trying are important. Perseverance is an important lesson that’s hard to teach. It’s too coolly handed down as obvious and easy. I’m (kind of) grateful for the opportunity.
Many teenagers don’t even know what their parents do all day, let alone how they got there. I like the idea that my daughters might experience vicarious failure through my many rejections, just as I hope to one day experience joy through their successes.
Perhaps as parents we should all fail more.