Whilst getting inspired for writing material and stories is usually not a problem for me, I have been struggling with my ‘why’ lately.
A ‘why’ is not to be confused with a goal or target. I have plenty of them and find it easy to remember what they are.
In particular, my main goal (to earn a full-time living from fiction writing) is clearly imprinted on my mind.
However, my ‘why’ is still a little bit fuzzy around the edges…
Of course, there is the whole aspect of working for myself, being the master of my time and daily schedule etc. which many writers cite as their ‘why’ (or primary motivating factor) in attempting to turn their passion into a business/career.
But I must admit: sometimes, when I am lying in bed (wide awake in the wee hours of the morning), I do ask myself what it’s all for.
I am lucky in that I have a very fulfilling day-job with great colleagues and a fantastic boss. My family and friends think I am totally nuts to even consider doing anything other than what I am already doing (apart from Mr. J who supports me unwaveringly).
I don’t work weekends and do manage to carve out time for my writing, reading and thinking on a regular basis. Even more so now that I live in walking distance from the office. So what is it about getting paid for my writing that is so important?
Last week, I actually asked myself: “Would it be so bad if you never got paid for writing?”
The question knocked me off my feet. Literally, I had to go to bed and pull the duvet over my head.
I didn’t have an answer at all. I tried defining my ‘why’ and couldn’t come up with anything good enough.
So I did what every self-respecting, tormented writer would do: I browsed Netflix.
For some reason, I got stuck on ‘Eddie the Eagle’, the 2016 film adaptation of Eddie Edwards’ autobiography ‘Eddie the Eagle: My Story’.
I will never understand what compelled me to press ‘play’ but I did. The film tells the story of Michael (Eddie) Edwards, Britain’s first ski jumper (since 1929) to represent the UK at the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary.
What was so significant about Eddie to merit him the love of an audience of billions of international spectators? Eddie had never ski jumped prior to 1987!
Yes, you read that right. He had simply decided at an early age that he was going to be an Olympic athlete and over the course of his youth (in spite of many injuries) let his Olympic discipline find him.
Through trial and error (and broken feet, fingers, and even a broken back!), Eddie taught himself how to jump before acquiring a coach who taught him how to land.
Virtually every person Eddie met on his journey told him to quit and follow in his father’s footsteps by taking up the quiet (and relatively safe) life of a plasterer.
Eddie didn’t care. He just carried on jumping and breaking bones…all the way to the 90m Jump at the Olympics.
I think he even came last. But that mattered little. Eddie reached ‘his moment’ and I was swept along with excitement and admiration (even though I am not at all into sports, least of all ski jumping).
When asked for his ‘why’, Eddie simply said: “I like proving people wrong.”
And why shouldn’t that be good enough for me?
I know that many people doubt my ability to make the writing thing work and it would make me very happy to one day have the success that will force the same people to admit that they have been underestimating me all along.
Eddie’s story inspired me immensely and reminded me that your ‘why’ doesn’t have to be noble. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Your ‘why’ doesn’t even have to sound good to anybody else. In fact, it should only sound good to you and do the one thing it’s supposed to do: keep you going towards your goal.
If you know of any other extraordinary people that I should read or learn about, please share their names in the comments below.
I have just started reading Eddie’s autobiography but at only just over 200 pages, this is not going to last very long.
Maybe your suggestions can help me find some more ‘whys’ – even though the one Eddie’s story gifted me is already pretty good.