A very good writer friend of mine made an announcement recently that has me reeling in my socks. She's quitting the biz. She's tired of the rejections and heart break and she needs time away.
I understand this, I really do. At the same time, I want to grab her and shake her and tell her she's not allowed, under ANY circumstances, to quit! I'm furious and upset and sad. She's one of the finest unpublished writers I know. She's not unpublished because she has no talent. She's unpublished because she hasn't hit that right combo of luck, talent, and timing yet. Her books are not easily categorized. They aren't trendy. They are, however, full of emotion and damn fine storytelling.
But one editor too many sent her a rejection this month. It's not just this month, of course, because that would be silly. And she's not being silly, though I still think she's wrong. After years of contest finals and near-misses, she's just tired. Worn out and tired of being hurt. I understand.
Yet I want to give her a flame-retardant suit and tell her to keep going. I've quit before. I convinced myself writing wasn't for me. I missed it from time to time, but I went back to school and ended up with an MA for my trouble. I wrote plenty then. Papers, papers, papers.
I missed romance writing. I read it, sighed a lot, thought how apparently I just wasn't good enough to make it. And then I got an idea. It kept me up at night. I started to write, just for me, and it grew bigger. I kept writing because it was fun when there was no pressure.
That book was pure fun, but I never sent it out. Instead, I started another one. By this time, I knew I was back and the dream was still alive. I finished the next book. Decided it was awful, but I liked the idea. Threw just about everything away and rewrote it. Rewrote it again. That book is HOT PURSUIT, my Golden Heart Finalist.
I am NOT judging my friend. Our roads have been different, and I can't know her heart. But I grieve for the loss because I know she's good. I think (hope) she'll be back. The funny thing about me, when I came back, was I knew I wasn't ever leaving again. I can't. I will not quit because I've been there and it was no fun.
What would it take to make you quit writing? Do you believe in dragging your broken body up the mountain, or would you say, forget this, and withdraw from the race? Everyone's different. There is no right answer. But what would it take? I'd really like to know….
There are so many avenues in writing. I would probably try some other type of writing. You know that I have done poetry, essays, short stories… and now I have completed two novels. (Time to get in gear again).
I have also done technical writing. I just can’t stop. I even did Pay-per-post writing so that I could say that I had made some money. So yes, to me I just couldn’t quit. I keep writing everything.
PS. The only time I couldn’t write was that first year. I was so sick that I couldn’t even think. Evenso, I was telling stories in my dreams. Some of them were pretty crazy. So even then I didn’t stop.
I think we have the same friend =)
It’s a HARD business…burnout is inevitable especially as many times as we get kicked in the teeth (which is many more times than we get a pat on the head). I quit. I say I quit but I didn’t REALLY quit…that said my heart was totally not in it (I even took down my website)…five weeks later I sold to Kensington. That didn’t magically make me feel better though–finding a good place has taken another two years.
Sometimes you just have to shut it all off and go for a walk.
Cyn, you had your hands full trying to live that first year. And I’m very glad to see you back to writing regularly and having fun. 🙂
Amie: It’s a bummer, isn’t it? I understand wanting to quit. I understand going away for a while. I went away for 8 yrs. And I’ve had mini-breaks from time to time, that’s for sure, even since I came back.
I think it’s telling, though, that you gave up, took down your website, and sold. Honestly, THOSE are the stories that keep me going. Every time I thought about quitting, I’d read about someone whose journey in the trenches was far harder than anything I could imagine — and who’d gotten The Call when things look the blackest.
I hope she simply needs a break. Because she’s waaaay too good to let this business get the best of her.
I don’t think I’ll ever completely quit. Heck, if nothing else, I write a To Do list every day. 🙂
But seriously, there are times I’ve given up for a while. Just walked away so I could get perspective. But the only time I ever seriously considered quitting, which was recently, I cried on and off for 24 hours. It was like grieving the loss of someone very important to you. So I know that will never happen. I just couldn’t go through with it.
I’m not sure… I haven’t been at this for very long and am always hearing encouraging words from so many published and unpublished writers that I’d like to think I’ll never give up. I definitely have days when I think my writing is awful and I’ll never get published, but then I think, wait, I love to write, and if every day I get to do something I enjoy, then that’s enough.
This was a great post! Thanks for sharing it. And best of luck to your friend.
Who cares about the post, your picture is HOT!!!
Angel, you aren’t allowed to quit. 🙂 You are allowed to go away for a while and think, to reconsider and find new paths, but you can’t quit.
I went away for 8 years. Don’t be silly like me. 🙂
Robin, we ALL think our writing is awful from time to time!!!! You just have to work through it, keep writing and growing and moving forward. It may very well be that what you write at first won’t be quite right. But if you keep writing, you’ll figure it out and you will write exactly what someone is looking for. 🙂
*sigh* I know who you are Anon. I have Sitemeter. Nice try, sweetie. 😉
Burnout. I’m just getting over it and ready to start again. When I start telling stories to the Princleings I know it’s time to begin again:-)
I’m glad you’re back to writing, Morag! You are very talented. 🙂