Being a writer feels a whole lot like what I imagine being an applicant to American Idol feels like.
If you suck, people will tell you.
And the worst part is that, like many of those singers, my chosen creative path means absolutely everything to me, so when people send me rejection letters or lose interest halfway through a summary or straight-up laugh at my work, it feels like someone jabbed a cold knife through my esophagus. Then, in the weeks and months (and sometimes years) that follow in which I scrutinize every detail of those rejections, I feel an awful lot like giving up.
If you've read any of my previous articles, you've hopefully gotten the vibe that I think writing is awesome. I still believe that - I always will - but as this year draws to a close and I look back at my projects, I feel an acute exhaustion. In January, I wrote a 30,000-word action piece that was quite fun in the moment, but which I fear I've pinned too much hope on since then. In April, I wrote most of a novel that I actually stopped writing and haven't picked up again (I haven't abandoned a novel since 2011). In July, I once again subjected myself to the same novel that's been plaguing me with its mediocrity since 2013 (and still isn't finished). In September, I wrote a 17,000-word short story that I haven't touched since and, the more I think about it, the less I like it. This November, I'm going to rewrite the ending of that 2013-book again and hopefully write a new novella that I have done no planning for whatsoever. And in between all of this, I have been submitting to publishers and contests fairly regularly and have gotten the same response every time: NO.
Now, if you write less than me, you might find this facetious. I'm not trying to be, especially since I'm well aware of (and know) people who write more than I do. This isn't about quantity, it's about persistence and enthusiasm. And let me tell you, as someone who pushes for persistence and enthusiasm as the major factors in any writer's pursuits, it's pretty darn difficult to keep up the gig.
I don't believe anyone should give up.
I feel like giving up a lot.
As of this moment, the exhaustion and frustration won't disappear simply because I write about motivation every other week. It's a daily brawl. Some days I feel a whole lot better about my creativity than I do right now. For me, it's a matter of constantly reminding myself that I have no choice but to win that brawl and just keep writing. I truly believe that the day I stop writing will be the day I lose my identity, and that's something I never want to have to admit to myself when I look in the mirror one day.
In the meantime, I'll just hope this will all look better in a few months. Writing isn't easy, and it's okay to admit we sometimes want to give it up, too.