Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Don't Quit at the One Yard Line



Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success. They quit at the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown. -- Ross Perot

I've always written, and always will. Even if it's just poetry, love letters, or in my personal journal. People outside my family don't read those words, and for the longest time, I was okay with that. When I mention the idea of quitting, this isn't the writing I'm talking about.

When it comes to writing fiction and pursuing publication, have I considered quitting? Yes.

Am I proud of that? No. But I'm keeping it real on the blog. I'm not one of those bulletproof writers who says, "I'll never quit." Believe me, I've considered it, especially after a punch-in-the-gut rejection. I've wondered why in the heck I'm doing this to myself. But I've learned to nurse my open wounds for a few days, then gather courage and move forward. Why? The "what if" factor.

Whether you're pre-published or published, have you ever asked yourself, What if I'm 50 yards from the end zone? 20 yards? 10? What about one yard from the end zone?

What can be worse than the pain of rejection? The pain of regret. Always wondering, If I hadn't quit, what would've happened? How close was I?

In case they're helpful, here are some important points to remember:

  • Many people say they want to write a book, but never do.
  • Many people start writing a book, but never finish.
  • Many people finish writing a book, but never edit.
  • Many people edit their books, but never have them critiqued.
  • Many people have their books critiqued, but never submit.
  • Many people quit after rejections pour in.
If we keep going, even when times are tough, we set ourselves apart. If you're pre-published, and you're thinking about quitting...don't. You may be at the one yard line, and don't even know it.

Rachelle Gardner wrote a great post, 8 Ways to be a Happy Author. It'll definitely put a spring in your step, and remind you why we do what we do.

Confession time: have you ever considered quitting your pursuit of publication? What kept you in the game? 




35 comments:

  1. I never thought about all the places where I could've quit or where others have quit. I wasn't do or die - I just kept moving forward.

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    1. Love that, Alex. And move forward you did!

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  2. I am a very impatient person, so I consider quitting all the time because I get frustrated with myself and the process. It's hard. When I went back to school in my fifties, I wanted to quit every single day, but I didn't because the goal was more important. And when I got that degree, oh my, it felt so good. The same with writing. The end result is more important than how I feel during the journey. I love the writing, but hate the marketing and publishing part.
    Karen

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    1. Karen, kudos to you for getting that degree! What an inspiration. I'm impatient, too, so I know how you feel. I want it now. Or yesterday.

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  3. I do think about it sometimes because it can be such a discouraging endeavor, especially when I see what I think is awful stuff getting published. I mean, if that awful stuff can get published then why not mine? But I can't quit. I just can't, even though sometimes I want to.

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    1. I know what you mean, Marcy. Hang in there, though. Your time will come!

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  4. One thing that kept me going was my jealousy of other writers who succeeded, partly because they never gave up. I figure that by not giving up and continuing to write, I'll be in a better position to handle that jealousy without letting it control me, if that makes any sense. Even if I never become as successful as those other writers, at least I can say I tried.

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    1. Ha! That totally makes sense! And you're right. If we're trying, we'll eventually get there.

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  5. Great post, Julie. The idea gives of being just one yard away and never noticing, of quitting just at that moment, gives me shivers.

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    1. Jayne, you and me both. Wouldn't that be tragic? Let's not allow that to happen!

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  6. Great post, Julie. Yes, I have considered quitting. But stubbornness keeps me in the game.

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    1. Thank goodness for stubborness! It'll pay off in the end :)

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  7. I always love your posts, Julie. I think most writers pursuing publication feel this way. I know I have. Sometimes I wonder how my ego managed to swell so big that I thought I was good enough and I just wanna laugh at myself. Then I go back and read something I wrote and think, "I CAN do this."
    I think the bottom line is sometimes we underestimate how much work it is. We get this idea we want to do it, be it, but wonder what we're doing when it doesn't happen the first few years we decided to try. For some it does, and that was always what hurt the most for me. But for the majority of us, it's a constant test of what we're made of--much like the characters we write about.
    Like you, I'll always write cuz it's who I am and the pub world cant take that away from me. I won't let them. ;)

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    1. Beautifully said, Pk. Nothing can take that away! And you're right, it truly is a test of what we're made of.

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  8. It's super amazing friends like you that keep me in the game! I wouldn't let you quit. ;D

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    1. And you and Leslie make the journey a heck of a lot of fun :)

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  9. Great motivational post for us to keep pressing ahead. You just never know what's around the corner. I've thought about dropping pbs but never poetry.

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    1. Keep on keepin' on, Catherine! Your picture books will delight little readers :)

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  10. Never, ever, ever have I considered quitting. Why? Because I know that as long as I never quit, I will make my dreams come true. Sometimes when the stars align it happens sooner than later. But the reality is...it will happen. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But it will happen.

    There is no way to fail, if you just give it one more day. This I know is true.

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    1. Bravo, Karlene! That is the perfect attitude to have. Whenever I have a bad day, I'll remember to come back and read your comment.

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  11. Yep, there are times where I quit for a few days or for a week or for a month because I'm discouraged or I doubt myself as a writer, or whatever else my excuse happens to be. But then I realize I don't really want to quit, I don't want to give up on my dreams, and so I keep going.

    What an inspirational post. Thank you! :)

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    1. Way to go, Jenn! I think it's normal for us to go through a short period of manuscript mourning, as long as we get back at it!

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  12. Ditto what Lisa said. I would have jumped out of the plane without a parachute many times over if you two weren't holding my hands.

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    1. Good thing we weren't in that same parachute holding hands, because I would've dragged you out with me! It sure is a lot of fun being on this journey with the two of you <3

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  13. Yes, I've thought of quitting. I actually did it several years back - so I thought. It came back to me. It's a passion and I love it. It's only now that I know, I had to take a break to re-group, study the craft, and understand what and why I was writing. Those were the best few months spent in my career.

    Now, when I think of quitting in the middle of a tantrum, rejection pity party, or something else, I always think of the movie - Field of Dreams - I am haunted by the scene when Dr. (Moonlight) Graham says to Ray, "It was like coming this close to your dreams and then watch them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd. At the time, you don't think much of it. You know, we just don't recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they're happening."

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  14. Oh, sure, quitting has crossed my mind before. I know it's just self-doubt talking, though. Some chocolate and reading a good book is good for my soul, and I'm back in the game playing hard!

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  15. Let's see, if I'm counting correctly, I've quit being a writer about a bazillion times. When that, "I give up!" moment passes, I go back to writing. That's what I do. A writer is who I am. If I were an elephant I wouldn't give up "elephanting," now would I?

    Lovely post, Julie. Thanks.

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  16. Great post. Two years ago, I had 105 rejections. Last week, I turned agents down. ;)

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    1. I guess that was earlier this week, but it's been such a long week it feels like longer.

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  17. I confess I do at times think of quitting. My progress is really slow because I work full-time, have a family, and have a busy blog. Sometimes I wonder what life would be if I had a little free time. But I always come back to the fact that I love writing.

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  18. Thanks. I needed to hear this. After all these years I've invested in the craft, it gets embarrassing to admit to not having an agent or book out at this point. But I can't imagine not writing.

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  19. Wednesday 6 mars 2013

    Dear Julie,

    What a great post!

    I have yet to get my novel even finished, but I have not quit trying.

    I have trouble with time and money.

    But recently (since last November when I quit NaNo) I have been reading a lot of how-to books about novel-writing, plotting and editing, as well as how the publishing business works.

    So I still have my goal to write and get my book published. I am not quitting. But I want to publish a book that I can be proud of.

    Best wishes,
    Anna


    AnnasAdornments for Insecure Writers March 6th

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  20. Funny that my current WIP has a guy in it, a wounded soldier, who lives by the mantra of ~One More Mile~. To quote him:

    One more mile might be the only thing between life and death, muchacho. You better embrace the suck. One more mile and you're alive, but you quit, you're dead as pot roast.

    The point being exactly what you say. Don't quit just because it sucks. Embrace the suck. That's part of it! That's where everyone quits. It's the wall for runners, the cliff for climbers, the emotional hump for writers, and so on. You succeed ONLY because you go on, where others quit.

    Otherwise, success would be a pretty crowded place, eh.

    I don't know that I've ever thought to quit writing. I've taken breaks, but I don't think I understand how I would quit.

    - Eric

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  21. Thanks for sharing as always, Julie. You hit it on the head. It is regret that keeps me from quitting. No matter what happens I never want to think or hear anyone tell me that I didn't try hard enough.

    -Jimmy

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  22. Such great advice. It's the pain of rejection that gets to me, and then my best friend says, "No, you can't quit." Bookmarking this to read it again!

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