Wednesday, June 7, 2017
#IWSG: I Quit (Or Do I?)
Recently a man I vaguely know on social media published his first book. It was not an instant bestseller. In fact, he got some critical reviews. With three days of releasing that book, he posted that he quit and would no longer be a writer.
Watching this unfold, I was gobsmacked. He gave up so fast! And so easily. Why? Was he just of the "instant gratification takes too long" mindset? Or that fragile? Or so lightly invested that he could just drop it without a second thought?
It's a good question. There are times when it might be good to quit. When what you're trying to do really has no chance of success or if failure is eating you instead of inspiring you to try harder or differently. When there's no joy. But sometimes, quitting is doing yourself a disservice, not giving it long enough to find out what your limits are and what you can do.
So, did this guy do the "right" thing by quitting? Or was he just being a special snowflake and reacting childishly to criticism? I don't know! I've never walked in his shoes, but it did feel like a fast trajectory to me.
I've never actually quit writing altogether, though my level of commitment and follow-through has varied over the years, building to what I have now which is steady, if slower than I'd like, progress.
I have, however, quit a particular piece of writing.
The first novel I ever tried to write is now abandoned. Really abandoned. Like left in the dumpster
See, it was the first novel I ever tried to write. It suffered from a lot of incurable flaws. It didn't have any kind of clear plot; it just sort of meandered all over the place. It was WAY too autobiographical, with characters who were thinly veiled cyphers for people in my life. It was unbelievable wish fulfillment, with everything going the way of my main character even though nothing in the story made that logical or reasonable. In other words, it was crap.
But I learned SO MUCH from trying to write it, so even though the months I invested in that work didn't lead to a finished product, I don't regret the time. My writing group was so supportive and kind. I'll always be grateful to them for that.
I don't think continuing to work on it would have helped me. I would only have become more and more frustrated, trying to make a silk purse out of that sow's ear. So, quitting that book was smart.
The next book I wrote was much better. It's not published, but I think it could be, if I pick it back up again and revise it with what I've learned since.
The third book I wrote is now published, and pushed me into what could now be described as a fledgeling writing career with three novels and several short stories out there. She *can* be taught!
But I never gave any serious consideration to stopping writing altogether. It's too much at the heart of me to simply set down like a less-than-delicious sandwich.
I don't quit easily.
Good thing! Building a writing career is a hard row to hoe. Which makes it all the more satisfying when something starts to bloom. It wasn't easy, and continues not to be easy. Not just anyone can do this. It takes dedication, hard work, and perseverance. So I'm special :-) (My mother says so).
I'm interested to hear how the rest of you know when to quit. Like Kenny Rogers once sang, "You gotta know when to hold 'em/ know when to fold 'em/ know when to walk away/ know when to run." What he didn't tell us was HOW you know. Please comment below!
If you're not already following #IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group), you should really check it out. The monthly blog hop is a panoply of insight into the writing life at all stages of hobby and career. Search the hashtag in your favorite social media venue and you'll find something interesting on the first Wednesday of every month.