When A Writer Gives Up, Part 2

Not me, but it might as well be.

It took me so long to get back to this that you probably thought I’d given up. Not so. Well … not yet, at any rate.

Last time, I wrote about letting go of an idea–or having it leave you; of recognizing that an idea’s time has come and gone, at least for you. Sometimes those once-exciting ideas can be resurrected, but sometimes not and that’s okay. Someone else will write that story. God knows there are plenty of ideas to go around.

This time I want to speak to those occasions–and I think most, if not all, writers experience them, but I can only speak for myself and the writing friends who have shared their frustration with me–when the time and effort you put into writing become too much in the face of continual rejection; when you can’t catch a break no matter what. When you wonder if it isn’t time to call it a day as a writer.

“It’s not fair!” you cry.

Know what? You’re absolutely correct. But as the Grandfather in Princess Bride (played flawlessly by the inimitable Peter Falk) remarks, “Who says life is fair? Where is that written?”

Unfortunately, he’s absolutely correct, too.

Inferior writers get published for any number of reasons, many of which elude me. (And I ain’t namin’ names here, so don’t ask.) Celebrities–who may or may not have 1) actual writing talent, and 2) written the book with their name plastered on the cover–get published because they’re A BIG NAME and that name/notoriety “guarantees” sales, which of course is what the publisher is hoping for. Sometimes, a rejection is merely the result of timing. I once sent a short story–what wound up being a contest-winning short story–to a well-regarded science fiction & fantasy magazine, only to be told that they liked it a lot but, unfortunately, they’d just bought a story on the same topic. (See how ideas come to more than one writer?)

It’s a rough market out there, and getting rougher by the day. Your competition is fierce, and many of them are just as good a writer–or, let’s face it, better–than you. Do you write to what you hope are market trends, or doggedly go your own way? Is there a time when it’s best to concede defeat?

Don’t look to me for answers. I don’t know, and can’t know, what you’re thinking and feeling and experiencing. I can only know what I believe, and think, and observe. If I sometimes sound a little bitter about this topic, it’s because I am. I’m dealing with my own set of writerly frustrations and, yes, there are days when I think, “Enough.  They win. I give up. I’m too damned tired to keep at this.”

There are days when I believe it, too.

But not today.

Today I take a deep breath, rally the interior troops, and keep fighting. Today, I keep believing.


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