Calling it Quits

I’ve been labeled as stubborn a time or two, although I’ve been always been adamant in proclaiming the word “determined” suits me far better. It’s been like that since I was a kid with two older siblings I was “determined” to keep up to. I never had the feeling that my parents expected too much from me, it was always my own self-imposed expectations that made me so determined, not theirs

Writers don’t end up having their work published unless they have that certain determination about them, not only to write, and polish that novel until it’s the shiniest they can get it, but to collect the countless rejection slips that are most surely heading their way. There are times when all writers sigh and wonder if it’s worth the effort and heartache. Being rejected isn’t the easiest thing to bear. Determination can only carry us so far. Eventually we have to see some results for our hard work.

That’s why I’ve decided to call it quits.

Okay, so I’m not talking about quitting writing. Let’s get that straight. I’m talking about a particular manuscript I’ve been working on for over a decade. Yes, I did say decade. Sad, isn’t it? That much time into one story. I had thought I might actually put the finishing touches on it this week, but that’s not going to happen. Not only that, I’m not sure it’ll ever happen. I’m seriously thinking of ditching it, calling it a “write-off” if you will. It’s hard letting go though, seriously it is. But if I’m being honest I feel as though something is missing with the story, and I don’t know what that something is. Maybe I just don’t like my main character that much, and I don’t feel as though I’m making the story my own. (If that makes sense.) It seems a shame since I’m a few hundred words from being completed, and yet…..

I can’t quite put my finger on what’s wrong with the darn thing.

While determination can be a wonderful thing, there comes a time when we’ve got to know when to say enough is enough. Being so close to our own work, puts an author at a disadvantage. We can’t always know when we’re being objective— whether or not we’re overly optimistic about a project or just feeling down-hearted for no good reason. Did I mention I once stopped working on Flying With a Broken Wing because I started to feel blah about it? Well, it’s true, I did. Luckily, when I went back to it months later I felt much different about it. I could look at what was there and imagine it becoming a book one day.

In many cases writing is a lonely profession. I know today many people have writing groups to cheer them on and give them advice. I think that’s a good thing. But alas, it’s only me to decide what if something is worth finishing. Even determined people need to know when enough is enough. There are always new stories to be written without wallowing in one that feels like a lost cause. Luckily, I’ve got several manuscripts on the go, ones that I do feel passionate about. Good thing, right?

So now  I’ve reached the point where I’m stuck between wanting to finish it and finally giving it up for good. Even as I write this blog post I’m struggling to decide what I want to do. A part of me feels as though it’s a waste of time, while another part screams out , “You’ve got to give it a chance!” at least finish what I’ve started since I’m so close to the end.

Have you ever called it quits with a manuscript? How did you know it was the right decision?

Don’t Argue with a Bumble Bee

Aerodynamically the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it, so it goes on  anyway.  ~Mary Kay Ash

I’m not sure if any of you have ever heard this myth, or if some of you have heard it and believed it to be true, but according to Wikipedia it’s a myth. Sorry to burst your bubble. If we were to pretend that this myth were actually true, I think the quote by Mary Kay Ash is rather thought provoking.

Think of the little bumble bee going about its business, having a grand old time, not even realizing that it’s not supposed to be able to do the very thing it’s doing.

How many of us in life have defied the impossible? There are many people out there who have. They’ve done what others said they could not, despite adversity, social or economical challenges, despite the fact that not one other person believed in them, they succeeded in what they set out to do. These are the people whom we need to take our hats off to. These are the people we can learn some of our greatest lessons from.

Determination and patience, something we writers are told we need to have if we want to defy the odds and get published (and if we don’t have it now, we best be getting ourselves some) applies, not only to those of us clacking away at the keyboard, but for all of us who set out to achieve goals in life. We’ve all heard that things worth having are things worth waiting for. Well, I tend to go along with that thought. If we were magically given everything our little hearts desired, the instant we desired them, our homes and lives would be cluttered and muddled to the point where we wouldn’t know which way to turn. Mind you I don’t want to have to wait and wait for that mama burger at A&W when I’m half starved out of my mind, and I wouldn’t mind getting that next publishing contract….But I’m sure you get my meaning.

Do you ever feel like that bumble bee? Some days I do. Everything falls into place for one reason or the other, and I’m on top of the world. I’m doing what others said couldn’t be done. If I’m working on a story I love, and the words seem to fall into place, there’s no reason for me not to feel this way.Right? But I’m not there every day. If I stopped to think of what all I want to achieve but have not yet, I could probably talk myself into believing that, like that bumble bee, it is impossible for me to fly. But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to keep flapping my little wings. When I get tired I’ll stop and rest for awhile because no one’s going to tell me it’s impossible. How about you?

Don’t Let Crappy Keep You Down

We’ve had a bit of a crappy spring here in Nova Scotia, and of course we’ve been grumbling. There have been scarcely had any sunny days in May, and April wasn’t much better. Still, we have to count ourselves fortunate that we haven’t been plagued with floods, fires, tornadoes or earthquakes. Really, what right have we to grumble with all that’s going on in the world around us? There is so much for us to be grateful for.

Last week I won two books by entering online contests. Our son also graduated from university on Friday. Then too, I won on the lottery! That’s right, a whopping 5 bucks, but a win no less. There is a lot in my life to feel grateful for.

Today, as I wandered around outside, I also felt gratitude for all the new spring flowers and blossoms that are opening up. Just think, in spite of our crappy cold damp weather, they still recognize that it is spring. They’re out there doing their part without complaint.

The same could be said for us. In life, we are often plagued with difficulties. Things don’t turn out the way we want them to. We have to work harder than we’d hoped to achieve our desires, and we become disappointed when failure smacks us upside the head again. Why can’t things go along smoothly? Why can’t we get the things we want in life?

Still, there is usually something for us to look toward with gratitude. It doesn’t have to be something huge. It doesn’t have to be something as remarkable as having one of your kids graduate from university. What’s wrong with winning a book or even five dollars? What’s wrong with the sight of spring blossoms, their sweet aroma filling the air around us?

When discouragement sets in, and we’re ready to give up, don’t forget to acknowledge the good that is already there. When rejection comes my way, it’s so easy for me to forget about all the times an editor sent word that my work has been accepted. Remember that one disappointment should not take away from all the positive things that have come our way. Yet, I will admit, it is easy to forget when we’re down there in the pit of despair.

Sometimes we just have to dig our heels in further and keep on going once we’ve tried our disappointment on for size. Got to remember that it’s okay to try on the ugly things just to see what it looks like, but no way are we going to take that ugly thing home with us to keep.

So, here are a few blossoms for you and for me. A reminder that, even though things may be crappy, life goes on. We’ll still get where we want to go eventually. The apple blossoms don’t seem to realize that the weather’s been cold and dismal here in Nova Scotia. They’re still willing to show up regardless of the weather. So, how about you?

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