“The hardest part of love is the letting go.”
From the musical Children of Eden by Stephen Schwartz
Never give up! Never Surrender! It makes you feel like we’re in some kind of war, and indeed it feels that way at times. Publishing is competitive. There are more people who want to write books than people who can possibly read them all, let alone people who actually want to. The industry is in turmoil right now and if you’ve listened to published authors share their success stories you know that much of it had to do with their drive and determination to never give up.
“Never give up,” I hear over and over. “Don’t take no for an answer.”
But once I heard one writer, a very successful and well known author, say “Sometimes you just got to admit when it’s not working and move on.” I’m pretty sure she was speaking about the story, and not necessarily a writing career in general, but it got me thinking about both.
When do you give up on a story?
I’m sure answers to that question vary. My own thoughts are that when you’re first starting on a story, you can give up fairly easily, like speed dating (never been myself.) Not every idea that pops into your head is worthy of a story. But there comes a point in the process when you get hitched and are in it for the long hall, through the rough bumps and hard falls, always having faith that it will be worth it in the end. You don’t give up when it’s hard, only when it’s dead.
And when is it dead? Let’s say I write a story and want to get it published. I take it down every avenue I can find, short of self-publishing, and all the doors are shut in my face. Is the book dead? Maybe and maybe not, but obviously it isn’t working for the moment and I should move one. Many authors write several books before they get published and sometimes they can reach in the dark drawer and get the previous books published too.
Giving up on a writing career in general:
Are you a loser, a quitter, a weakling if you don’t stick it out until the end, fight the good fight? Is it really just a race of endurance?
Something I remind myself of every now and then: Writing is a voluntary act.
Say it again. Writing is a voluntary act. This isn’t a war. People’s lives are not at stake. I write because I like it, not because I have to. I’m always skeptical of those people who say I have to write! I can’t imagine my life without it! I understand what they mean but I always want to ask, what will happen if you don’t? Will you die? Blow up? Cease to exits? Sprout a third eye? (That would be cool. I could use one of those, particularly in the back.)
I’m not trying to be flippant, just realistic. I think we tell ourselves these things because it keeps us going. Saying that we have do something makes us believe that we should, that we were born to do something. If we only don’t quit, our dreams will be realized and we will change the world with our voice. Destiny.
Sometimes the bravest things is to have faith that there is something else out there for you. I didn’t always want to be a writer. I used to have other ambitions and I was pretty fierce in my pursuit of them. I could not imagine that I could be happy any other way.
But then something happened to me and I gave up that dream. I found a new one and I’m grateful every day for the path I’ve been led to.
Never give up. Never give up on finding your path.