Monday, August 1, 2011

On Wishing I Could Quit This Depressing Business

One of the anonymice happened to indicate that s/he had quit writing. Got fed up and gave the whole messy business up.  When I lamented that I wished I could do it to, here was the wise response:
It's not that hard, really. You just have to give up the ego thing.It feels nice to stop jumping through the flaming hoops they set up for you (as if you were a trained poodle in a sideshow). Anyway, after you jump through them they still have some trumped up reason to reject you. Write, if you must. Share your work with friends and others. I sent a story to a friend, she passed it on to her mother, the mother had it read by a reading group she was in. So fifteen people read and discussed it and shared their reactions with me. I haven't submitted it to any magazine. Why bother?
But is it really my ego that's the problem? I think it's that I don't know how to do anything else.  Maybe I am a decent cook; I enjoy concocting something wonderful and creative for friends and family, but I'd never want to do it full time or as a profession.  That would suck the joy right out of it for me.  But, seriously, I can only do one other thing, and that's write. So maybe it's my lack of ego that's the problem. BTW, I've tried quitting before. It never sticks.


Anonymous said...

I don't know. I think the reason I do it is for a sense of collaboration. When I read other people's poems I want to write poems. When I write poems and have them published in lit mags I like to think that someone is reading it and it's making them write too. I'm not asking for my poems to be remembered, or the poems someone writes in response to my poems to be remembered, but if I'm part of a chain that leads to a new classic, that's pretty great. Maybe it sounds inflated of me, but I want to advance art. I think if the only reason you're writing is for yourself, that's not a good reason to be writing (even though I'm sure I've already pissed off several anonymice here with that statement).

Oh and also it doesn't sound like the anonymouse you mentioned is actually over the ego thing. She's just getting her ego stroked somewhere new (friends, friends' mothers, friends' mothers' reading groups).

gimme said...

I've quit in the last few years. It's obvious I cannot get a book published (tho I've had numerous short stores in journals, etc.), & I don't see any reason to continue writing books that are unpublishable. By giving the books away for free on my website I've already reached more people than I would have if I'd been published (& made about as much money).

At a point it comes down to where you want to put your energy. Writers often have an attachment to a victim mentality, mixed with a very active fantasy life/ability to block out reality, which enables them to labor for years at tasks that offer no conceivable reward - like being "accepted" by the publishing industry.

If you're a writer of character-based literary fiction, you may as well be manufacturing rotary phones - this is not the time and place for you, the publishing industry has absolutely NOTHING to offer you and the sooner you accept that, the happier you'll be.