This post is about more than just writing. It’s about giving up on a dream. As in, don’t do it.
Recently I was a writers meeting a someone said: “Well, real life has taken a turn for the crazy, and it’s interfered with writing, and I’m no where near my goal of finishing a book by the end of the year or quitting.”
And I thought... Quit writing? I think I could quit breathing first.
My first printed works of fiction were written on these:
Even before I could write, I was making stuff up. Okay, some people would call it lying, but it wasn’t to get out or to make trouble. It was just to make a better story. Writing books is a job. But telling stories is an art and a passion. And if I am pleasing no one but myself, I will keep writing.
This is not the first time I’ve heard writers give themselves a deadline “or quit.” I’ve heard “If I’m not published in 3 years, I’m done writing.” Or, “If I don’t have an agent by January,” or “If I get one more rejection, I’m never submitting again...”
But that makes me wonder why they’re trying to be published at all. Writing, like all artistic professions, I think, can’t be limited to external measures of success. There has to be internal satisfaction. (See above re: writing = breathing.)
Maybe these people don’t mean quit writing, but simply quit submitting for publication. Fair enough.
Who is to say what a “reasonable” timetable is in a business that is completely unreasonable? It’s driven by reader fads and economic trends and individual editor likes and dislikes.
Why set an end date on a dream? It’s not like we have an expiration date. I was going to write: It’s not like it’s something we can only do when we’re young and fit, like running a marathon or climbing Mount Everest, but even THOSE things are accomplished by people who work toward it their entire lives.
Of course it’s important to make goals. The thing is, so much of life is out of our control. Parents and children get sick and husbands leave and hurricanes blow. Your goal will sometimes have to take a back seat, but you should never kick it out of the car.
That’s the difference between a goal and an ultimatum. You can ALWAYS set a new goal. But an ultimatum is more of a threat, and you’re punishing no one but yourself. If you take your toys and go home, the only one who loses is you.
Remember: Never give up, never surrender. But do overs are completely allowed.
PS-- A recent event makes me worry someone will think this is aimed at them, and it’s not. Just this week I’ve heard “Or I quit” from three different writers, but I hear this more often than you might imagine. Hence the rant.