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On giving up

Last week, in a national newspaper an author dared to set out the reasons they had decided to give up after their second book on the market didn't achieve what they hoped it might. I won't link to the original article, partly because it's all over the place, anyway, and partly because the sentiments within it aren't what I wanted to write about (I could blog about stickability and bemoan the lack of it, but not this week)

No, what I wanted to talk about was, partly, the reactions I've seen all over the internet about it - few of them generous. They've ranged from (and I'm paraphrasing)

the writer had it lucky, they had an agent, they were already doing better than most
How dare the writer think they were going to make it in two books, this takes years
They're a quitter, and we're not
Their expectations were so high, they set themselves up to fail.

I'm not saying there mightn't be a grain of truth in some of this. I don't know to be honest. What I do know is that it was that writer's choice, whether to continue or not. In fact, I think hat's off to them for getting two books out there, for showing the tenacity it takes to get an agent. But, whisper it, sometimes when writing becomes your profession, it changes how you feel about it.

Now, I'm lucky. I still love writing, even if I'm a little slower these days and struggle a little some days to get the muse kicked into action. I'm very happy writing - but I'm not sure I'd want it to be my whole life. It is lonely. It can be hard to find support - especially if you're a little introverted, as many writers appear to be. Validation is difficult - reviews both lift and knock the writer down, and we're supposed to know which are valid and which are to be ignored.

I've had writing friends give up, not because they can't write well, or that they don't want to, but that they simply do not want to write within any of the models available. I'm sure most of them are still writing something from time to time - rarely in my life, even when I wasn't a 'writer' have I gone long without something hitting paper, just for my own records or observation. But they don't want to be a 'writer'. There is too much else going on in their life, they don't have time, reviews or the prospect of them makes them stressed, they like writing the start of things but not honing them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

It's not my place to judge. Just at it's not up to anyone else to judge the way I approach things. For me, the blog was useful because it sparked a conversation - and my part in that conversation is this: be generous to that writer. Be glad it's not you, and you're still able to face writing the next book and the next (if you are). Be proud of them for being able to take the choice we dare not speak of - that writing, the espoused dream career, might not be such a dream. That we might,, actually, hate it when we try it. And that, if we do, for whatever reason, it's okay to say I give up. I don't want it anymore. See you around.                                                                                 


Peter Zebedee said…
What I always find funny about writing people is that they consider being published as the first hurdle in defining themselves as a writing person. The truth is, you put to pen paper and you're a writing person .. end of! The rest is just a question of whether you are an appealing enough commodity to do your hobby as a job ... like a dancer, or a painter or someone who likes to fix clocks might, instead of their day jobs.
Joanne Zebedee said…
I think that definition is fairly personal to each person. Some are happy to be a writer if they write, others not until they're published, still others not until they're with big publishers. I think it's okay to choose when to make that decision :)

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