I QUIT.... or maybe not
by Clare O'Donohue
Q: Was there a point before you were published when you thought of giving up? If so, how did you get over it and keep going?
I laughed when I saw the word "before" in this question. Before I was published I never thought about giving up. Not once.
I wrote my first book because I wanted to know if I could write a book. That was my main goal. I wanted to publish it too, of course. I got discouraged by each rejection, and slightly excited by each offer from an agent to read the first 50 pages. I tried not to care too much, and I also tried to take it seriously. I didn't want to be one of those people who called her book, "my baby". I wanted writing novels to be my job. I wanted to be professional.
My friends & family fell into two groups - those who thought I was silly, indulgent, or naïve. And those who kept telling me "You'll be rich and famous." Actually, neither group was all that helpful and sometimes I wished I hadn't said a word about writing a book.
I didn't have a long hard road to publishing, so maybe that's why I didn't get to the "give up" stage. At least not before my first novel came out.
Since I've been published, on the other hand, I have often thought of quitting. A full time job that requires a lot of travel plus writing (and marketing) my books has been exhausting. There's a lot of weird passive-aggressiveness in publishing, and the pay rate is somewhere in the pennies per hour.
I don't know what I thought being a published author would look like, since I really didn't think about it at all. But whatever it was supposed to be, it often isn't. If I had gotten into this to be rich, or famous, I'd be long gone by now. Being a writer is hard, published or not. And not writing would definitely free up my evenings and weekends.
But I don't quit. And here's why.
1) I like being in the middle of a book, figuring out what will happen next. With each novel I get a teeny bit better at it. I will never be a master, but I am curious how far my talents, discipline, and efforts will take me.
2) New characters keep popping in my head. Characters that sit and wait for their turn to become words on a page. They may be imaginary, but they have rights. If they want to be in books, then they should be in books.
3) The writers and readers that have become my friends in the six years since my first book came out. To stay in the club I must keep writing. And I very much want to stay in this club.