Shadows and Tall Trees 7

The new edition of Shadows and Tall Trees is now shipping, and you can order it at Amazon.co.uk in both paperback and hardback (as well as eBook). It boasts an absolutely killer lineup of writers including V.H. Leslie, Robert Shearman, Steve Rasnic Tem, Alison Moore, Conrad Williams and a host of other top-notch authors.

And then there’s my story, ‘Sun Dogs’, which is as close to a love story as I have ever written, and which I hope people will enjoy as much as I enjoyed writing it. Sometimes a story comes to you fully formed, and you find yourself opening the conduit between your brain and your keyboard in order to shape that story, and I hope I’ve done it justice.

The cover art for both the hardback and paperback editions is stunning:

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Both covers are courtesy of the superb Vince Haig

it’s the doing that kills you

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I have a motivation problem.

This could apply solely to writing, and it undoubtedly does apply to writing in some ways – it’s coming up for four weeks since I last wrote anything. But largely, this applies to Life In General. I have a problem with motivation. Specifically, I have a problem with maintaining it: oh, I’ll gladly take on all number of hobbies, challenges, pastimes etc. I’ll take them on with great enthusiasm and pour myself into the task. I’ll watch myself improve and I’ll take pride in that. I’ll probably show off a bit, too, because I do that.

And then it just….fizzles out.

I’m not sure why this happens, but it happens with almost everything I do. Japanese lessons – I studied for almost two years, and then lost the will (in my defence, I was struggling to afford the classes, but…) Sewing plushies – I made a couple, bought a load of sewing kit, and then found myself utterly unmotivated to continue. My personal history is awash with abandoned, half-finished things: the Good News twitter which I rarely update anymore, weightlifting progress which comes in fits and starts. I promised myself at the start of 2017 I would keep a basic daily diary – I did great until about mid-March and now empty pages abound. I promised myself I’d relearn how to read Tarot cards. I promised myself I’d update this blog regularly.

I can’t put my finger on why this happens. Sometimes, it’s because something becomes very challenging and I give up. (I admit to having a problem with this: if I’m not instantly good at something, I get incredibly discouraged and find my motivation crushed.) Sometimes something new comes along and grabs my attention – inevitably another ten-minute wonder. My brain seems incapable of maintaining a level of enthusiasm for anything for very long.

Writing is the only thing I have stuck with – I’ve been writing (mostly) consistently for about five years now. And even that’s a struggle sometimes. I try to form a ‘writing habit’ – writing at lunchtimes, in the evenings, early mornings, take your pick. It never sticks. Sometimes I can go weeks without writing a word. I always think about writing – I’m forever planning stories and scenes in my head. But when it comes to actual motivation, there are a great many times when I find it completely absent. (Says the Imposter Syndrome: clearly you’re not a real writer then.)

I toy with the idea of writing myself a schedule – allocating myself time outside of work to write, exercise, practice Japanese, time on the internet as well as time to relax. I toy with it, and never do it, because oops, it turns out that involves a degree of motivation as well.  It’s frustrating, especially since I can’t work out why I’m like this. Why I dive into something with unbridled enthusiasm only to find it dwindling weeks or months later. And the worst part is, I am incapable of enjoying doing ‘nothing’. I hate it. I can’t stand just sitting around, watching telly – I feel at my best when I am ‘doing’, but sometimes the ‘doing’ is so difficult.