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Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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All You Need Is
Never Have Me
I had an acting teacher once who said something pretty wise, and I've always found it useful in my writing, which grows like a weird flower from my having spent the better part of my young life acting. (Secretly, you know, all my short stories are monologues.) This is not quite verbatim, but almost. He said fuck a lot more, I think.

He said:

"You know, this whole what's my motivation thing is really bullshit. Down at the bottom of it all everyone has the same motivation."

And he looked at me expectantly and I tried really hard to know the answer but I didn't.

"Everyone wants love. That chick in Sleepless in Seattle who did all that humidifier shit with a boyfriend she didn't like that much and the gangbanger who's walking around fucking everyone in the face, they're doing it to get love, to be loved. They might define love as something odd and fucked up, where dominance or money, which are indicators of a kind of primate love where if enough people acknowledge you as lovable you can get anything from them and do anything with it, get mixed up into it, but it's just love and that's it."

I think about this a lot with regards to characters. It's not just about romantic love, though that's a huge motivator, but I find it to be more or less true: everyone wants to be loved, and that isn't a twee or contrite thing, nor is it easy. People will do amazingly bizarre things for love, and even worse when they don't understand that love is what they're after, and they think the dominance or the money or the hooking people up to their machine in the Pit of Despair is the actual thing rather than the effect, the tell of being loved. If everyone loves and respects you, you dominate them (and if you love them too they dominate you as well, but if you don't love anyone and everyone loves you, you are a supervillain). If you get enough money no one will ever be able to not love you again. If you hook someone up to your machine, won't they have to look at you with awe and wonder? And isn't that almost as good as being loved and known? Everyone has to love the King. It's the law.

Love gets a bad rap for being cheesy because we see it as mushy and the province of girly writers and rom coms. But it's this deadly thing most people are out to get, because we are tribal animals and we want that close, protected, us feeling. Notice I'm not talking about sex--that's also a marker of being loved, not the loving itself.

I look around in my day to day interactions, at cons and at home, traveling and staying put, and I see us all wanting to be loved, to be accepted around the fire, to be counted as belonging. It's a powerful thing, one that can go dark and go light depending on how often it is thwarted and repressed.

I'm not sure my old teacher was completely right. But almost every time I write anything, I think about him, and what he said, and how he was not a very nice man, and he made me cry by yelling at me a few times, but he probably wanted to be loved too, to be seen as an authority, to be known as someone good and strong. He died a few months after our show closed, and I hope that he was loved, in the end.

Wow, that's really excellent.

That reminds me of the musical "Chorus Line" for some reason. Mr. Carp and Morales.

It also reminds me of "Deathless" and the very complicated lovers therein.

Funny you should say that. This teacher happened to be in the film of Chorus Line. When he made me cry my mother bought me the soundtrack for that song, not knowing he was singing on the album.


One of the oldest social tendencies we have is this ingroup-outgroup thing, where we define being loved not only in terms of who we want to spend time with, but in terms of who we don't. Look! Those people over THERE, I hate them so much that you must see how much I love OUR group of people, right? And that makes you love me more?

I love this post~ thank you! :)

There are only two emotions/motivators - love and fear. Everything else can be traced back to one of those two options.

Truthy goodness here.

I came to this conclusion a long time ago watching all the fucked-UP friendships and relationships going on around me and I sortof just came to the realization that some people are willing to do ANYTHING for love (familial, romantic, etc) and some people are willing to draw the line.

Typically, the people willing to do ANYTHING for love end up being the villians in my stories. The people not willing to cross a line are the heroes.

That's an interesting differentiation, considering Hollywood wants us to believe that all people get the love in the end, but what makes us who we are is what we do to achieve our ends.

Thought you might like hearing that, even if you debated it. Thanks for the post!

"I see us all wanting to be loved, to be accepted around the fire, to be counted as belonging."

Oh this, oh this.

I am positive (through much therapy and self-analysis) that my need for control/Type A-ness, my hyperfunctionality that burns me out so often, and my near-compulsive need to offer help when people bring up an issue is all a need for love. If only I can make everything right people will love me. I will be necessary for them and needed. Since it is pitifully traceable to my after-school-special of a childhood, I feel like it's shameful somehow. If only I could rise above the needs that weren't fulfilled as a kid and be independent.


I am trying to tone it down and not overwhelm people with that black hole of need for love (trying being the operative word). It is hard sometimes when the primate looks around and sees no pack or tribe though.

It is hard sometimes when the primate looks around and sees no pack or tribe though.


Wow. Yeah, a lot of truth there. Thanks for that.

He said fuck a lot more

At first I thought that was what he said. And then I found out I was wrong and I was a bit disappointed. Then I read the rest of the quote and realised that perhaps I was not wrong. I remember having an anthro professor who said there are four universal needs. Food, lodging, sex and not to die. In at least one of those we will in time be disappointed.


There's a nice article by Haidt on the origins of morality (18 MAY 2007 Science). Westerners tend to reduce it all to questions of fairness. But looking more broadly, morality often encompasses: ingroup/outgroup and loyalty; respect and obedience; bodily and spiritual cleanliness.

Is this apropos? I guess I'm on the side of 'humans are amazingly, beautifully complicated' creatures. One word doesn't cover it.

Well, no, of course one word never covers it. But these things are important to think about when your business is inventing imaginary people.

Re: love (Anonymous) Expand
This is something I have been struggling with for a few years now. I never feel like I fit in, am part of the "in" crowd, or that people care/love me enough to want to be a part of my life. It is something that has kept me up at night, made me cry, and eventually, I just have come to some kind of peace with the fact that most people feel this way...even the shiny ones which boggles my mind.

I don't think most people have any idea of how much they are loved. But I can tell you this:

I love you for all the joy and wonder your work and words have brought to my life. I love you for all the experiences you have allowed me to share. I love you for creating worlds I can see myself in, and the new secrets they have allowed AJ and I to share. I love you for being you, and knowing that you aren't perfect and that is ok. I love you for always trying so damn hard and caring so damn much. I love you for being one of those people I desperately want to know better and have as a real friend, not just an internet face. I love you for putting your real self out there, knowing not everyone will approve. I love you for being so brave.


I know that I'm very, very much motivated by love. Most of my everyday actions (even ones that I'm not proud of) stem from wanting to be loved. And most of the items on my life to-do list, I can trace to wanting to be loved (and even exactly by whom).

What's weird is that it took me a really long time to realize this. I had a really vivid moment of realization, that this is my primary motivation, only last year (it was actually on the snowy plains of Kansas or some such, with you and s00j and K in the car.

Wow. This is so true.

Love is everyone's motivation, and I wish people noticed that more often. It makes me sad to people who want something so badly because they have no love and that something is their replacement.

The one motivation everybody has is money for the rent.