Here’s one thing I’m learning at the moment: if I quit, I lose.
I read this blog this morning, about one writer’s eight year journey to the publication of her book. Ha. Eight years? Ha. I conceived mine eight years ago this year…and am about to start a complete and radical rewrite. It’s not a fun thing to stare down.
Sure, I’ve learned a lot in those eight years. I learned by doing, by failing, by making mistakes and picking myself up again. Sure, I had two babies in that time too (to add to the one I already had), and a few major life events. I can’t say I’ve worked flat out on writing or on research (although I have been pretty consistent). I’ve read a lot of books on the craft, I’ve read a lot of books by people who write similarly to me. I feel like I know more about writing a novel than I’ve ever known, which is a good thing because, well, I’m about to start from the beginning again.
Eight years is getting to the embarrassing stages – the kind of length of time you don’t like to tell to people, because they’ll start to think the project really sucks, or you’re terrible at what you do, or it won’t be worth reading, or you’re one of those people who plods away at a hobby, scared of ever reaching the end. None of those are true (well, so say I about it not sucking etc).
A few months ago I went to a writing workshop by a man called James Scott Bell, who wrote an excellent craft book called “Plot and Structure“. He encouraged us to pull out our pens and paper and write a love letter to our novels, “Dear (insert title here), I love you because…”. After a few minutes of this he then made us switch our brains around, and asked us what our novels would like to say to us. “Dear Megan, I wish you would…”. It was a positive and surprisingly challenging exercise. It’s also become the thing I’m holding onto at the moment in my writing journey. I learned then that I loved the courage and honesty of my characters, that I cared deeply about allowing their voices to be heard, for their stories to be understood. I learned that I’m too far in to quit.
Sometimes there’s no way out but through.
If I quit, I lose, and eight years is wasted.
I have to keep going. I will. I am. I can. It’s going to be worth it.
I’m just taking a deep breath first…
How about you? Have there been projects that you thought you’d never finish, or would never end? Did you finish them, or did you realise, after all, that you no longer cared? If you’ve done it, what does it feel like to finally see the end?
Megan I read this quote just yesterday “You cannot write a novel out of inspiration, out of a moment of genius. There’s no substitute for sitting down every day for four hundred days and writing a page. (Ethan Canin)” So what if it takes 8 years, if that’s what working through looks like? Go you 🙂
You’re right about that Jane, that’s a quote worth holding on to. Thank you!
I think writers face a pretty tough world, when it comes to getting a novel published at any rate, but I am sure you will get there in the end. Keep writing and enjoy. Have a love affair with the words. Does it have to be a novel even. Perhaps your lovely characters would shine out in a novellas? 💐
Thank you, yes. Enjoy it. It is a tough world, the publishing industry. I’ve come back to the place of just write, don’t worry. I’ve taken the pressure off myself, it’s nice. Phew. Now, back to it!
So hearing ya, Megan! 11 years for me so far. Except I kind of have quit… for now. Just wrote a post about it actually. A detour in the road. So proud of you for pushing through! You WILL succeed – you’re too talented not to.
Karen I found that blog post in my emails yesterday and clicked through to read it this morning (which I just did – and left a comment). AMEN!!! Thank you so much for writing that. It’s a perfect reminder that all our journeys are different…but it doesn’t change the call God has for us. Joseph in prison was such a perfect reminder for me of that.
All of it is learning. None of it is wasted.
Here’s another thing I’ve learned: God gives us dreams because He knows we’ll need them to hang on to. Sigh. I’m glad we can encourage one another! Thank you!!
Thank you for the lovely comment you left! Yep, so glad of your encouragement and hoping I can be the same for you, my kindred writer friend. 🙂
Oh Megan I feel your pain and I am so glad for your courage! My brain is very uncooperative of that I’m sure! I am in the midst of such a struggle with my “book” right not that I don’t know what to do. I am thinking of hitting pause letting some new ideas in and seeing what happens then, but what if that makes me a quitter or a failure?
Jessie I so hear you. I feel your pain, and I’m praying for you right now!
Let me apologise though – you are NOT a quitter, or a failure. Not if you stop, not now, not EVER. DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU YOU’RE A FAILURE!!!!! EVER!!!!! (yeah I’m a bit passionate on that front). Quitting is what happens when you decide to give up something totally and permanently, and never do it again. People quit stuff for all kinds of reasons, most of them very valid. I quit painting (as in picture painting – I have a degree in art) years ago because I realised that it was stressing me out more than anything positive, and I didn’t care if I ever made it as an artist. I quit knitting a jumper when I was fourteen because a) I hated knitting, b) I didn’t like the jumper and c) I knew I’d never wear it even if I finished it. Wise move, Megan.
When I quit I lose, right? Yes. I lost a jumper. I lost the chance to have beautiful paintings on my walls. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.
I quit writing my first novel, mostly because it had no plot. I’m okay with that.
I won’t quit writing this one, because this one is my heart and soul. I’m not okay with that. I know that if I give up then I’m giving up a part of myself, and giving up on something God has given me.
Sorry for preaching at you my friend…I didn’t want you to go away thinking negatively of yourself if you do decide to put the whole thing on hold for weeks/months/a decade or more. Oh, and read Karen’s blog post, too, linked in her comment above. Well worth it. 🙂
This isn’t preaching this being impassioned and thank you! The reason I struggle is because I already have one book I put aside what if I just keep doing that? Thank you for your prayers, I so so so appreciate them. Also I have to tell you when I was reading about your knitted jumper I just giggled and giggled!