“The Hoax” and a writer’s motivation

Those of you in the real world probably saw the Richard Gere movie “The Hoax” back when it came out in 2007 or shortly thereafter. Japan being the place it is, I only just saw it a few days ago (it was in the “brand new” section of the video rental place near my apartment). A couple of things in the story related to writing and being a writer struck me as being worth discussing; one was the motivation of Gere’s character regarding writing his book, and the other was how he related to the lead character in his book. Today I’ll dwell a little on the former.

One of the things that I’ve long wanted to really figure out about myself is why I’m drawn to write at all. It’s not the money for me; that much I’ve known for a while. (And thank the gods that it isn’t because this is no way to get rich!) I had thought that perhaps it was wanting to leave something behind, accomplish something with my life that I could later point to—the legacy question—and though I do think that’s part of it I don’t think that’s all of it. The related issue of fame here comes into play as well. Do I really care about my name being known by strangers? Or is it merely the association with something that I’ve created that I seek? Still unsure, I set myself a little thought experiment—but before I get to that let me make a few prefacing remarks.

I love seeing what’s happening with the Occupy Wall Street movement. (And incidentally, for those of you who want to get involved in an Occupy Together movement near where you live, you can find a great listing here.) This is something that I’ve long thought was overdue and it’s wonderful to see it putting down real roots, getting more and more organized, and more and more focused. A movement like this has tremendous potential to see real improvements made in the lives of people all over the planet; this is a chance for humaneness and decency to make deep inroads into the current dogmas of profit-first and consumerism-above-all. Okay, so with that said, this was my thought experiment: I would feel extremely honored if some of the people participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement read “Tomorrow, as the Crow Flies” and passed it on to other volunteers. The book is after all about living better and creating a better society for all of us. But, and here was the challenge, would I still have the same desire to be read by this group if my name were taken off the cover? That is, do I want the work to be read because of the work or because of its association with me personally?

It was difficult to be honest with myself about this point, and to really take a hard look at what’s driving me, at least in this case. In the end, I did decide that I feel strongly enough about the book that I’d want it to be read even without getting any credit for having written it. And in writing this now I think I’d say the same about my other books too, though by far I feel that “Tomorrow, as the Crow Flies” is my best work. Regardless of how you answer though, I think that asking yourself what makes you tick is something every writer, musician, artist, creator should do.

Apologies to you patient readers on another long-winded post from me! For those very few of you interested, Paul and I have also finally gotten around to putting bios up on our About page. Worth a look?

Next week, Paul j Rogers takes a look at negative vibes.

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One Comment

  1. Paul
    Posted October 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Some interesting points. Good post. If you’re writing for money, you’d beter be studying current popular genres and trying to grab hold of a rising star before it burns out. Not easy. If you’re writing for legacy, do books really matter in the way that they used to? On the net alone, there’s so much content and so little time to consume it. So, for me, that just leaves personal gratification and the pleasure of slowly mastering a craft.

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