Not Ready to Quit

I’ve been at this writing thing for a while, working toward publication. There have been highs and lows throughout the journey, validation followed by rejection. It’s been tough, but I’ve always been tougher. Something inside wouldn’t let me quit. Something inside knew I did not want to give up.

Several weeks ago, I began to seriously consider quitting.

Seriously, as in, I actually said out loud, “I’m thinking about quitting.” And I spoke those words to a new non-writer acquaintance who’d asked about my writing. That was a huge moment, because during all the years of writing in the bleachers during Zebu’s basketball games and being asked by other parents if I was a teacher grading papers, I always said, “No, I’m a writer.” If they asked more questions, I’d let them know I was writing novels for kids and when the inevitable question came, I’d say, “No, I haven’t been published yet.” And it was okay. There was a core of steel in me that allowed me to have those conversations. I knew I’d keep writing until my stories were published. I knew I’d prevail.

Nothing specific happened in the past month or so to shake my convictions, but somehow I felt I’d reached my limit. As in, maybe it was time to quit putting my work out there to be judged because maybe, just maybe, it was unhealthy to continue making myself vulnerable to others’ opinions. Sending out a manuscript is like offering my heart on a plate so that it can be stabbed, sometimes repeatedly.

So I gave myself a little break. A break from writing and a break from decision-making about writing for publication. I kept reading, though. One of the books I read was a YA from an author who’d written one of the best books I’d read in 2013, an author who sells gazillions of books and seems to be an awesome person. The YA I read was a huge disappointment. Weak, weak, weak. I was flabbergasted. And slightly annoyed. I knew better than to write a protagonist who doesn’t change and secondary characters who serve as placeholders and plot lines that go nowhere, fizzling out into big nothings. Why do I know that? Because I know how to write.

And just like that I knew I wasn’t ready to quit writing for publication. Not because I have any delusions about knocking that author off the best-seller list. And not because I’m angry with the publishing world that has, thus far, excluded me from the club. I’ve gone back to work on my YA because I want to continue doing what I know how to do, and to continue learning how to do that even better.

I am a writer. And no, I haven’t yet been published. Whatever.

Image from MorgueFile.com by Alvimann

Image from MorgueFile.com by Alvimann

13 thoughts on “Not Ready to Quit

  1. “Whatever” is right! The key word is YET. Writing is such a sucky career choice, and by career choice, I mean “dream job.” (insert a snort) It is all so subjective. Just today during the big book announcements I was annoyed with two of the choices.Even though I am sort of “part of the club,” I still have my own frustrations and disappointments. I am glad you aren’t going to give up, Tracy!

    • “It’s all so subjective” is one of my mantras, because there ain’t no accounting for taste. Thank you, Steph, for your words of support and know that I’ve always been so very thrilled that you got your foot in the door and are part of the club.

  2. What Stephanie said. You’re not unpublished. You’re pre-published.

    I wonder if we’ve read the same YA novel. I’ve loved previous books by this author, but the author is so popular that perhaps he/she is churning out the books too fast. I put the book down because all the characters sounded the same and I couldn’t keep them straight. I never resumed reading it.

    But about you, I’ll quote Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never, never give up.”

    • You’re right, I am pre-published and I might remain pre-published. Who knows?

      Maybe it was the same YA, although I didn’t have trouble keeping the characters straight. I did, however, read another YA by another much-loved YA author and every single one of those characters talked the same. It was really frustrating.

      Thank you and Winston for the encouragement, Barb.

    • Thank you for that link, Jenn. Let’s see, I’ve lived in Alaska and battled cockroaches in Van Nuys, so all that’s left is the book deal, right? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA………………………………..

  3. What’s so hard is that quality isn’t always what’s being sought. But your way is my way and it’s the only way we know. What’s the point if you’re not working hard to be better all the time? It’s not always the just world we want out there. But we’ve got to keep to our paths. I’m glad to know you’re keeping on, and I have faith in you.

      • There is something comforting about knowing the kind of books I want to write (not to imply I necessarily meet my original intentions), because that means there’s one less crazy thought bouncing around my head. I mean, I’m not agonizing over whether to vampire, or not to vampire, or writing an emotionally manipulative book that screams “I WILL make you cry!” So, there’s that.

        I really appreciate you stopping by to lend your wise words and support, Jeannine. Happy writing to you, friend.

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