On giving up

We’ve all been there: the hill is so steep, and we can’t even see the top. We have no idea when that first sale is coming, and even if we’ve made the first–as I well know–that does not mean the second or third will follow any time soon. There are days when we feel like we’ve been slogging too damn long, with too little progress. Our friends, who love us, tell us that we can do it–they believe in us! But sometimes that just isn’t enough to make us believe in ourselves.

It’s a dark, heavy place. I’ve spent days, weeks, months there. Every word typed feels like I’m just treading water, churning sludge that I’ll never break free of. It’s tiring. It’s too hard. It’s too long. I’m too far away. I want to give up.

Over the years I’ve developed a strategy for coping with this: I do it. I give up.

Fuck it. I QUIT.

Try it for a second. Just quit writing.

How long do you last before you know it’s a lie? Is it a few minutes, while you try to imagine what you’ll do with your nights, and it doesn’t include making stuff up and writing it down? Does your throat itch, thinking about the stories you’re not going to even try to tell? How are you ever going to read a book again, knowing that you won’t get to contribute to that pool of human experience, that sense of wonder?

Bullshit. You couldn’t stay quit if you tried. You’re a writer.

You’d be a miserable, wretched shell of a human being. This is the only thing you’ve ever wanted, the thing that gives meaning to your life. Yeah, you feel like shit now, like you’ll never be as good as Who-the-hell-ever, and you’ll never be as lauded as That Guy, but that’s not what we got into this for in the first place. Sure, we daydreamed. We’ve all stood behind that podium in our minds. But that’s not the same thing as our purpose.

There is a splinter in your soul that will not allow you to not write.

So go ahead. Give up. Quit. I dare you.

And I’ll see you back here soon. I can’t wait to see what you write next…after you’ve given up.

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  • Awesome. Great post and I’ll remember this next time I feel like quitting. 😉 

  • Paul Weimer

    I need to really start before I can stop. 🙁

  • Oh, brilliant. I wish I’d written this! And a very good point.

  • Yes. THIS. Thank you for writing this, for articulating the Impossibility of Quitting. Even when things are hard — a whirlpool of suck and WTF am I doing? — it is a part of who we are.

    Thank you for the reminder. 

  • John Remy

    Christie, you have so much wisdom. Thank you for sharing this, and being tough on us. Amen, sister.

    I’ve quit on dreams before. For 20 years I wanted to become a professor–I gave up on that life ambition. It took 10 years to extricate myself, and it was soul crushing. I healed partly by pouring myself into what was my backup dream at the time–to become a successful SF writer. I don’t ever want to put myself through that hell again, so sticking to this writing dream. 

  • Yes, yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. Oh and that too. Pretty much sums me up in recent and not-so-recent history. So, here I am, again. Having given up. 

    And given up on giving up. 🙂

  • Mishell

    As a writer I’m like Bill Murray in Groundhog day: “I’ve killed myself so many times I don’t even exist anymore.”  And with just as much result.  I always end up right back here, behind the keyboard, and it’s always the day before my big break.

  • Jennifer Brozek

    Yeah. Occasionally, I think, “That’s it. I’ve had enough. I’m just going to play MMOs from now on.” And then I get another awesome idea. Or my brain blurts out the fix to that vexing scene and, before I know it, I’m back at my computer, writing. 

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