Experiencing A Lack Of Motivation

By Jorge Antonio Vallejos

I’m sitting at a long wooden table at my local library.  My laptop is at 32% power.  My buddy is sitting next to me doing schoolwork.  DJ Tiesto’s Adagio For Strings is pumping in my earphones.  And exhaustion is creeping in that I’m trying to fight.

It’s more than exhaustion, this feeling of tired in the now, that I’m fighting.

I’ve felt a lack of motivation over the last few months.  Possibly since January.  It’s hard to pinpoint when it started.

I remember my friend Cindy asking about my drive to run blackcoffeepoet.com a year ago.  I would always say, “I love it…I’m pumped…I’m into it.”

People found it hard to believe that I was able to post three times a week, week after week, year after year:

“You produce so much!”

“I’m having trouble keeping up with you!”

“How do you find the time?”

Blackcoffeepoet.com was a two year run that is now in it’s third year and possibly starts a fourth in September.

I committed to one more year, this year, and I will decide if a fourth is coming.

“Black Coffee Poet[.com] isn’t going to last forever,” said Cindy to me on many occasions.

She is right.

Nothing lasts forever.

And like I learned at the sweatllodge “change is the only constant.”

Last week I was able to spend time with my friend Cindy.  I stayed at her place for five days.  We saw a play, cooked meals, ate out, visited with her friends, and had great talks over tea at night.  It was a special time.

On our second last night together I brought up her question about my motivation and I revealed to her that I was having difficulties staying motivated.  It felt liberating to say it out loud to someone; someone who is a supporter; someone who is a regular reader; someone who has contributed to the website on two occasions.

“Maybe it’s time to take a break from blackcoffeepoet[.com], a leave of absence, to write your book,” said Cindy.

Cindy and some other friends have been a constant reminder of the book that is in me and my need to sit down and write it.  At times I like their support and enthusiasm, and other times I don’t want to hear it.

I’ve got a fear of writing my book.  And sometimes I wonder if blackcoffeepoet.com is a place for me to hide from writing it.  Other times I feel so motivated and proud of the work I do here.   I tell myself that I can do both: write my book and continue my website.

There are some things I have done to take the pressure off of me a bit:

1. I have asked people to write guest reviews and opinion editorials.

2. I have published letters.

3. And I’m thinking of asking a couple of people if they want a regular monthly column.

Blackcoffeepoet.com menas a lot to me.  It means a lot to lots of people.

This is not a farewell post.  This is not an announcement of a leave of absence.  This is my communicating with you, my readers, about what I am going through at the moment.

It’s my thinking out loud and expressing myself on the page.

It’s me letting go of fear.

It’s community in writing.

I always say my writing is my activism.  With all the letters I have gotten I have come to realize that my writing is also community building and participation.

I’m not alone in this.

I have Creator, my readers, my friends, my family, my stacks of books, my pens and paper, my laptop that has been with me since the start, and time.


About Black Coffee Poet

Black Coffee Poet is a mixed race poet, essayist, and journalist who focuses on Social Justice, Indigenous Rights, STOPPING Violence Against Women, Film, and Literature.
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  1. Anna Sewell says:

    Hey, Jorge,

    Thanks for sharing that!

    You are so very much not alone. I go through periods of motivational funk, and in fact, found myself struggling this winter, too. I think and hope and pray that it has passed now, but it was hard. I had a major production to put together, and i could barely make it through the days. I am so thankful for family and for a couple of good friends who pulled me through; and thankful for the practices i’ve learned along the way, that help me trudge through the dark times.

    I’m excited to tell you, we’re just starting up an Aboriginal Writers Collective here in Edmonton, thanks to the leadership of Marilyn Dumont, who pulled us together. Maybe some of us could step up, accept your invitation for guest essays/letters/etc, and write some of the view from here, to help keep BCP going while you fill your well.

    Best Blessings to you

    Anna Marie Sewell
    Edmonton Poet Laureate 2011-13

    • Anna,

      Thanks so much for your comment!

      It helps to know that other writers, and one as accomplished as you, go through the same things.

      Glad that you are out of the funk!

      Marilyn Dumont is an amazing person an writer. She was my first writing teacher. You are so lucky to be writing with her on a regular basis. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this group!

      Yes, I would love and appreciate unpublished Essays, Letters and Opinion Editorials on various topics from your side of the country.

      Please see and read the call and links within carefully (I have rejected pieces that were not Op Eds):


      Looking forward to your ideas!

      Peace, Prayers, Poetry,

      Black Coffee Poet

  2. chrismichaelburns says:

    Your honesty is refreshing to me. I grow tired of people in the arts pretending that “everything is fabulous”. People love to talk about their creative endeavors and gloss over the fact that they work part time at Starbucks, or whatever it may be. It makes for a false or half-true reality and unnecessary oneupmanship. Social networking makes this easy for people; they refrain from listing their “day job” so it appears they make a living doing creative work.

    When you express a lack of motivation, you are expressing something all artists go through but few admit to publicly, I think because our culture is so success-obsessed.

  3. Krin says:

    No matter how much we may love our work there are always moments we need a break or a change of scenery to allow for space to open inside of us. This space is a place for us to rest in or to find inspiration or to hear the voice that needs attention. Thank you for being so honest. So many of us have been in exactly that same spot. Hugs

  4. pdlyons says:

    thank you for sharing this. wish you all best in whatever you choose to do. For myself i dont have lack of motivation i have times in my life when other things must happen and then time in my life when writing happens – ebb and flow. hope you enjoy the waves and not worry to much about the current – there is no place we go that is not sacred, although sometimes we may forget.
    anyway enough rambling from the old fellow – just want to say i admire your energy and creativity –

  5. Ms. Paulette says:

    Hey BCP,
    Here’s the link about a teacher being taken away for emergency medical evaluation and placed on administrative leave. Why? Turns out the teacher is the author of two published novels, one of which is a dystopian story with school shootings…Caribbean Canadian author Nalo Hopkinson goes to the teacher’s defence.


    Letter to the Dorchester County Board of Education, Regarding Patrick McLaw
    September 2, 2014 | by LARB Blog
    Photo: Patrick McLaw

    Editor’s Note: Patrick McLaw, a language arts teacher at Mace’s Lane Middle School in Maryland, was recently placed on administrative leave from teaching after it was discovered that he had published two novels. One of the novels, “The Insurrectionist”, is about two school shootings and takes place far into the future. McLaw was taken in for an emergency medical evaluation and the police swept the school for bombs and guns, coming up empty.

    We have the privilege of publishing here a letter from Nalo Hopkinson, a professor at UC Riverside and a science fiction author, to the Dorchester County Board of Education.
    September 1, 2014

    Dr. Wagner:

    My name is Nalo Hopkinson. I am a professor of Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside. My university houses the Eaton Archive, the largest archive of science fiction and fantasy open to the public. The archive contains materials dating back to the 16th Century, including Thomas More’s “Utopia.”

    I am also a published science fiction writer with numerous novels, short stories and awards to my name. I am invited to read, lecture and teach in educational, cultural and literary institutions all over the world. My 2013 novel The Chaos (Simon & Schuster) opens in a high school and describes youth suicide, mob violence and sexual harassment of youth.

    Got that? I’m a teacher, I write science fiction, and I have a novel which features violence in a high school. I have written stories in which the protagonist destroys the CN Tower (perhaps the largest free-standing structure in North America), in which a main character skins someone alive, in which the protagonist is a serial sex killer of children. Know what happened to me as a result of being a science fiction author? I received tenure. Know what didn’t happen? I was not removed from my place of employment. I was not prohibited from setting foot on county property. I was not made to undertake a psychiatric evaluation. My campus and my home were not searched tooth and nail for bombs and guns and turned into enclaves guarded by armed police. I was not forbidden to travel, nor spirited away to an unnamed location. Shame on you, Dr. Wagner and members of the Dorchester County Board of Education, for how you have allowed Patrick McLaw to be treated. You are an embarrassment to education. What in the world persuaded you to try to destroy the career of a young teacher who is apparently devoted to his students? I’m not sure why you seem to have missed this fact, but writers write about things that concern us. Science fiction in particular allows us to imagine worst-case scenarios so that we may consider the implications of allowing present-day ills to continue. So a schoolteacher extrapolates from contemporary occurrences to write about a non-existent incident of mass violence in a high school – eight centuries in the future! – and you subject him to this kind of assault? Have you no understanding of how fiction works? Should Stephen King have lost his high school teaching position when he wrote Carrie, a novel in which a teenager slaughters her whole graduating class? Should Joss Whedon have been subjected to a psychiatric evaluation for creating “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” a television series in which a high school regularly experiences serial, ritual and mass murder? Should Suzanne Collins be treated as a public threat because she wrote The Hunger Games, a novel in which children and young adults are forced to take up arms against each other?

    But perhaps you do believe that writers should be prevented from dealing with such themes in fiction. Will your next act be to dismantle the language arts programmes at all the schools over which you have jurisdiction? After all, you have demonstrated to the students what will happen if they risk using their imaginations. The change.org petition in support of Mr. McLaw requests that you issue a full apology to him and reinstate him or assist him to find comparable employment elsewhere. I don’t think that goes far enough. I say his employment record should be expunged of any black marks relating to your shameful reaction to his work, and you should all resign your positions. But I can’t make any of you do the right thing. I can only write about it.


    Nalo Hopkinson

    Tags: letter, patrick mclaw, Science Fiction, teachers

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