This month's question is an interesting one: What would make you quit writing?
This question has come at the perfect time for me because I feel a lot like quitting writing at the moment. I'm going to take a break for a few weeks and try something else to exercise my creativity for a while because writing just isn't working for me right now.
I've been doing this writing thing for a long time, and while it may look like I've been relatively successful with four published novels and umpteen stories published in journals and anthologies, I don't feel very successful. My books have all had pretty wonderful reviews overall - there are always going to be a few people who don't like them and give them one or two stars - and I regularly get contacted by readers who enjoyed or were moved by my stories. And all that is great. I love it. That connection with readers is a big part of why I do it.
I've spent a lot of years working at this. A lot of hours. I've missed out on doing a lot of other things (especially sleep) to pursue my writing. Yet I don't feel like I'm a lot further along the road to having a career than I was fifteen years ago. My royalty cheques are regular, but depressing as hell. Some quarters my royalties are not even enough to buy a bottle of wine. Bottom shelf wine...
I don't get to see my books in stores because my publisher doesn't distribute to bookstores and doing it myself costs me too much. I lose around $10 on every copy I sell in a store in my city, between the amount it costs me to freight the books over here, the cut the store takes and the limit to the amount you can charge for a YA paperback.
I can see them in the library, but again, that's at my cost. I donate copies of my books to the local library system and my sons' school library because I want people to be able to read them. But I have to buy those copies and freight them here first. But at least I know people are reading them when I go to the library and they are not on the shelves.
And then there's my newer books, the ones that I haven't published yet, the ones I'd like to see published with a larger, more established press. I've been querying again for several months with a book I feel is the best I've ever written, and haven't had any requests. Even my first, really terrible novel got a few requests, and that was before I knew how to write a proper query letter!
I know that was a long time ago and times have changed, but so have I. I'm a much better writer than I was back then and I certainly know how to craft a query. Yet... crickets.
So it's time for a break. I know I will come back to writing at some point. I love it too much to give up entirely, and I know a new story idea will come barrelling in and blindside me when I least expect it. And I guess there's always that tiny spark of hope that the new one, that shiny idea that won't leave me alone, will be the one that breaks through.
Do you ever feel like quitting? How do you move past it?