I practice manipulative parenting. I'm not proud of it, nor am I ashamed. It works, you see, and with kids you do what works. Parenting classes, books, videos etc. talk a lot about finding your child's currency. It's a big deal, and funnily enough, it has nothing whatsoever to do with money.
It means finding the one thing that your kiddo cares about enough, wants badly enough that it will work as a sort of leverage. It's not as mean as it sounds, really. And at the risk of inciting child rearing debate (my kids are super spoiled and healthy as horses) I'll switch to my point, which is how this applies to writing.
You see, I recently found my own currency. Other authors will recognize this as "motivation." We talk about it a lot, in particular when the royalty checks are slim and we're considering day jobs at the check-out stand. "Why do I do this?" or alternately, "What am I really going through all of this for? Money? Fame? Masochism?"
I've never been ashamed to admit that the money was important. I believe authors should get paid, and it would be really great if one of them was me. Fame scares the shit out of me, so that's pretty much off the table, but making a living at this, I always assumed, was the goal.
Until I found out what my best friend was doing.
It's not as weird as it sounds. You see, she's amazingly supportive and kind and generous and has been purchasing every one of my books religiously. She's ponied up good money to have a copy of everything Frances Pauli has written, because she's just that kick-ass of a friend.
But she hasn't been reading them.
I get a little horrified shiver just thinking about it. "You...You what?" I stutter, clutching at my chest.
"But I bought them all."
But she doesn't know what happens in book two. She never met character X, never watched so and so die, never read the ending.... aaaaaaaaaaaaagh! I lost sleep over this, and let me tell you, sleep is a big deal at my house.
And suddenly it was crystal clear. I don't give a rat's hiney about the money, not really. Not when it comes down to it. I want people to read the books. I want to share the stories. This shouldn't surprise me, not me, who like a zealot force feeds every one of my favorite movies to anyone I can get to sit in a chair and look, looooook, LOOK! (watch, Joyeux Noel, asap)
Don't you dare talk through it.
Motivation is a funny thing. So is perspective, and though I still like the idea of getting paid, I feel a lot more relaxed about it now. Of course, I have a whole new kind of panic about readers, and feedback and...well you get it. It was a big aha moment for me, and one that has really changed my outlook. Currency is a funny word for it, but it fits.
Now if I could just find hers, I could make her read......