Friday, February 9, 2018

Ever Had One of Those "Throwing in the Towel" Days?

Every writer thinks about quitting. Every single one of them. If you've never thought of throwing in the towel, I'd daresay you aren't very serious about your craft. And that's not to be insulting; it's merely the truth. Those writers (me included) who truly think we're meant to write as either our chosen profession or our life's calling have thought about tossing that computer off the balcony or under that bus and never looking back.

Here I am pondering my decision to either
continue writing or quit and go on the road with
a circus. Wait, that's not me. That's my grand-
daughter celebrating the fact that she's not yet
an adult who faces those doggoned decisions 
every day of her life. Enjoy it while you can, 

I'm a Christian writer--rather, I'm a Christian and a writer who happens to write mostly Christian material. There's nothing unique in that. Many Christians write for His glory. Some are well-known and widely read. Others (again, me included) are not well-known, nor widely read, but that doesn't stop me from trying. Every single day. If I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing (or more specifically, about why I'm not writing at the moment). It consumes me. I don't doubt that many secular writers approach their writing in the same way I do. Perhaps they don't have the Lord looking over their shoulders when they write secular material, but then again, maybe they do. Many writers who are Christians write for the secular audience. There's nothing wrong with that. What would be wrong would be wanting to give it all up when they realize they're probably never going to make a lot of money or gain a lot of prestige from their chosen profession/ministry/hobby.

Back to quitting. There have been times, too numerous to mention to be honest, when I've seriously considered throwing in the towel, crawling into bed, and pulling the covers up over my head. I've been that disgusted with myself, my work, and the industry that I actually considered tossing all my training, time, and effort in the trash. And that's on a good day. You don't want to know what I consider on my bad days.

Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. It's not fun, and I'm never very productive on my "towel" days, but I think examining our motives for writing, the reasons we continue to do it in the face of the very real possibility of rejection, and our final decision to quit or not to quit make "towel" days redeeming in the end.

A few months ago, I came down with the grandpappy of all colds. I don't think I've ever had one that lasted as long or took as much out of me as that particular cold did. One of the worst things about it (besides the truckloads of tissues I used and the gallons of cold medicine I consumed) was that I seriously considered quitting writing. I don't know why I even thought about it because I was too sick to do anything but blow my nose and try to live through the next minute. But for some reason, my state of ill health and the subsequent depression it caused made me ponder (or wallow in) the truth of what my writing was actually accomplishing.

I came up with a few things. First of all, I was pretty sure that cold wasn't going to kill me, no matter how hard it tried and no matter how convinced I was that I was on my last legs. So if it wasn't going to kill me, I was going, sooner or later, to have to face the decision of continuing to write or not continuing. I realized that since I probably wasn't going to achieve overnight fame and fortune, I needed to understand why I wrote in the first place.

Was it for fame? No. I'm an introvert by nature, and wouldn't enjoy fame even if I achieved it. Was it money? Possibly, but I've been at this game of writing for at least a couple of decades and have yet to be forced to call the Brinks trucks to my house to cart off all my riches. There was nothing new about not making loads of cash. Was it the hour after hour, day after day drudgery? Probably not, since I'm retired and have a lot more time to write than I ever did when I worked full-time, and writing is never drudgery for me anyway. Well, if it wasn't for fame, money (or lack of), or the time I've spent in the pursuit of writing, what was it?

Simple. It was the expectation I placed upon myself every single time I sat down to my computer and hoped for inspiration. Even if I don't want fame, money, or those lost hours tacked onto the end of my life, I still have my pride. And my pride makes me do funny things. Of course, being a Christian, I believe there's more to this than just my pride and my personal view of myself. I don't give up on my writing because I feel it's my God-given gift and I think He'll let me know when it's time to stop--more than likely, from my dying. But why don't I give up when I'm totally convinced that either 1.) I'm not cut out for it, 2.) I have no talent, 3.) there's too much competition out there, 4.) I'm too old, or 5.) I don't need the money--hahahaha.

Because I know better. Deep down inside, I know I write because He put that desire into me before I was born. Yes, I'm not rich, famous, or the darned best writer to ever inhabit planet Earth. But I'm me. I'm the person I'm supposed to be and part of being that person is writing.

The same goes for every one of you. You're doing what you're doing (writing, that is) because you're meant to. If you ever stop writing, it'll be for one of two reasons: 1.) you were never meant to write in the first place, or 2.) you're just plain wrong. You were meant to write and your wondering about why you should continue because that's what writers do.

Welcome to the club.

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