Sunday, November 02, 2008

Giving It Up...

I'm not sure how to start this post. So I'm just going to shoot from the hip and hope at least some of it makes sense...
A writer is a different type of person. Our brains work in odd ways most of the time. Even when we're doing mundane tasks, things are clicking around in there - things that usually only make sense to another writer, things that make non-writers wonder about the state of our sanity. It's very rare that taking an unplanned day off makes me glad. It's not like working any other job I've ever had where you're thrilled to have a day off. Yes, I take time off - every writer I know does. As much as we love what we do, we need a break from our work as well, but it's different somehow and I'm not sure how to explain that. Maybe I won't even try, because that's not supposed to be my point.
Writing the book is totally different from the rest of the things we do as writers. Writing the book is pure joy most of the time. Yes, sometimes that book kicks our butts and makes us wonder why we ever thought it was a good idea to write it, but that's another post entirely. It's the other stuff that slams you in the gut with a two-by-four and then laughs at you as you're rolling around in the gutter. That other stuff is what eats at your motivation and your soul and has you questioning what the hell it is you think you're doing. It makes you question your craft and your words and your skill. It makes you think about quitting.
I'd be lying if I said I've never thought about walking away from writing. When you're doubled over in pain from your fourth rejection in a week and those rejections have stripped the determination right out of you, it's hard not to wonder what in the hell you think you're doing. You can't help but question it. The rejections seem to get harder to deal with and you wonder how much more you can take.
And then it fades, occasionally rearing the ugly head of "you suck" during low periods, but on the whole, you're able to beat it back with the stick you found just for that purpose. And you keep trying. Sometimes that question...Should I just not do this anymore?...Gets stuck in your head.
Here's the thing...
If you think you can just turn off being a writer, then do it. If you think you can just walk away and go work as a greeter at some ginormous department store and life will be peachy and perfect, then, for crying out loud, do it. If you think it's worth walking away from what's probably years of learning and honing your craft and exploring your voice and style, then, don't walk, run. Quit. Don't try anymore. Because honestly, even if you're widely famous and uber published, the only one you're really going to hurt is you.
Sure, your fans might be disappointed, but they'll get over it and find someone who is still writing books for them.
Maybe you're not published and you think quitting will make your life so much easier. Then, go ahead. Quit. Because I swear to you, if you can walk away like that - no matter how many books you've written, sold, or just sketched out - you are NOT a writer.
Writer's can't quit. Not really. Sure, you can take a break, suffer burn out, step back to re-evaluate your career and your direction - that's normal stuff. We all deal with it occasionally. Sometimes we think part of us has died and dried up, and then we discover that feeling came about because we weren't taking care of the vessel, or maybe the real world has thrown you so many fast balls that the switchboard in your brain has gotten all tangled and shorted out. You take care of yourself and eventually, the spark appears one day and says, "Remember me? It's about damn time. Let's get to work."
But if you can really walk away, then you weren't ever a writer to begin with. If you're really a writer, not writing anymore would be like losing your ability to see, or breathe. It's part of you. Writing's part of your soul. It's part of your being, not something you can hack off and toss in the dust bin.
If you're feeling like it's time to quit, then maybe you need to take a step back and get your perspective back in order. Take a break and let your mojo rebuild and while you're doing that ask yourself what you'd lose by giving up your dreams. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and recieve rejection after rejection. It does hurt when the rejections pour in and good words are so few and far between you think there just aren't any for you. You think you must suck.
But seriously, are you really willing to let your dream go?


Ava Quinn said...

So well said, Vicki. How come you're writing everything I need to hear right now? Freakin' fantastic post!

Victoria said...

Thanks, M3!
It's good to know I'm not alone!