Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why I don't quit

Before you go much further into this piece, I suggest you read my friend Brad Torgensen's excellent post titled "When Is It Okay To Quit?"  Go ahead.  I'll be here when you get back.

The post was strangely encouraging to me.  Not because I'm giving up the writing (though there are days I'm tempted to toss it all aside and become a professional video game player instead), but because it reminded me of why I CAN'T.

One thing about writing that many people don't understand - it is hard work, especially if you want to get anywhere in this business.  It takes hours of butt in chair, fingers on keyboard, whether the muse is firing on all cylinders or off somewhere on vacation.  It takes being able to hear the word "no" again and again and not taking rejection personally.  It takes practice, which is more butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.

And sometimes, a writer will look up from her laptop, bleary-eyed and frustrated, and whine, "Is it worth it?"

For me personally, yes, it is.  Here's a few reasons why:

  • I believe any talent I have in this area is a gift from God.  To not use the gift He gave me is an expression of ungratefulness on my part.  We are given our gifts to use, not to put up on a shelf somewhere and forget about.
  • I know I've gotten better.  I have been seriously writing fiction for nine years now, and the difference between Laura the writer in 2005 and Laura the writer in 2015 is staggering.  Moreover, I know I can continue to improve as long as I keep on learning and not settle for where I am.
  • There are people out there who actually like what I write.  Whether it's the weekly column in the News Sun or a short story or even one of my novels, people have told me they enjoy what I've written.  Such statements make my day.  And it tells me I'm doing something right.
  • I know that the "secret" to succeeding in this business isn't knowing the right people or even having talent.  It's persevering, sticking with it through good times and bad, getting up after getting knocked down...just not giving up.
  • And in the end, this is something I enjoy.  Yes, there are times I enjoy it less than others, when it's really hard to get the words down or I can't seem to get arrested, much less make a sale.  But even so, I love sitting down and making up stories.  Even if I never saw a penny from this I would probably still make up stories, because it's how I see the world and figure it out.
And the cool thing is I'm getting there, to that place where the writing makes a nice chunk of change.  I'm not there yet, and I don't know when I'll get there - but I'm on the right road.  And stopping just when I'm on the verge of arriving?  That would be tragic.

So I'm not quitting.  And if you feel the same way I do, you shouldn't either.  Tell me about it, and we can walk this road together.  Who knows?  The success we seek may be just around the bend.  Let's go find out.