by Francine Puckly
What do you do when you feel like giving up?
The dilemma of knowing when to keep fighting and when to walk away has plagued the human race for thousands of years. In the early years of our species, these indecisions pertained to things such as deciding if an animal was too large to pursue for dinner. Now our difficulties are often more subtle, such as a friendship or love affair that has turned sour, a business endeavor that is failing, or a fifteen-year-old car that has been faithful as the day is long but requires an expensive repair. Or it could be wrestling with when to slide a manuscript into a drawer or, even more sobering still, when to abandon the writing process altogether.
This discussion came up recently in my critique group. Several of us were physically and emotionally drained from having planned and executed an annual writing event, and others of us were licking open wounds from disappointing critiques with agents and editors who were not excited about our work. At some point in your personal regrouping process the question inevitably arises: Should I continue?
Should I continue to invest hoards of precious time in something that “may never happen”? Should I continue to work on a manuscript that still has flaws despite my best effort? Self-doubt creeps in and you ask yourself, What if I don’t have the talent or the fight left in me to bring this manuscript to print?
For me there is the sobering reality that I’m not as young as I used to be. I am not the wide-eyed, optimistic, and naïve thirty-something who set off to conquer the publishing world with her brilliant prose. I had lofty goals as to how many books I could bring to market, and now I realize I don’t have nearly as many books in me as I thought I did ten years ago when I began this journey.
But what I have with me are eight dear writing friends who, despite the foul verbiage I throw down on the page, doggedly stick by me through thick and thin. They read and celebrate my work, again and again. They laugh with me at my social blunders and public “mis-speaks”, hug and support me through family crises, and show up month after month with black ink on the page, ready to share, ready to listen, ready to keep on keeping on.
It’s a scary place, this one of reevaluation and self-doubt. And the decision is and must be an individual one, despite encouragement from others. Could I abandon ship? I suppose I could. But as my goals partner, Martha Calderaro, says, “If I were to stop here, I would regret seeing where this path would eventually take me.” She’s right. I’ve come too far.
So I keep writing. Not because of my ego’s desire to see my books in print, but rather because what else can I do? I would be miserable without pen and paper. Yes, this is taking a long time. Far too long. But Markus Zusak’s wise words from “The Book Thief” are posted by my desk: “It’s much easier, she realized, to be on the verge of something than to actually be it. This would still take time.”
For more blogs, check out Francine's group blog on goal setting and other writing topics at www.24carrotwriting.com.