Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let's Call it Quits

Last week I posted about that feeling you get called "why bother?" We get tired of running uphill and on the bad days think downhill doesn't exist . . . at least for us. We envision published writers as lottery winners. Their stars aligned with the planets. They had connections. We admit to ourselves in the shower that these writers have brilliance our minds will never comprehend.

So we want to call it quits.

The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and ExercisesJames Scott Bell released a book for writers entitled The Art of War for Writers.

"You have to know, going in, that you need to develop Rhino skin to survive. The good news is you can develop it. Every time you come back from a set-back and write some more, you create a little more of that protective coating, that inner strength."

Okay, like that's going to help me when I'm crying over my keyboard. Get tough. Try harder. That's not it. Well, it is, but it isn't. We have to be strong, even when we cry, scream and throw manuscripts against the wall. But don't tell me to "man up." In my mind it's not a choice.
It's simple, really. We write because we hate to think of not writing. To me it's like giving up iced tea when I've grown up with it my entire life. That first sip when you're thirsty is sublime. And it has to be sweet tea. When I moved to Phoenix for three years, nobody had sweet tea and couldn't imagine why it mattered to me. After all, it was only sugar and tea. No it wasn't. It was tea slowly brought to temperature, blended with sugar, then poured into a pitcher and diluted with cold water. I grew up with it. It's picnics, Sunday dinner, summer days, fried chicken, a cold glass on a hot forehead after pulling weeds in the garden. It's a part of my being. I made my own while in Arizona, but the water was a little different, and ordering water when going out to eat almost ruined the meal.

It's my fix.
Writing is my fix. It's a selfish fix, I know. It's time consuming and involves nobody else in the process. But it enables me for everything else in my world. I'm not kidding. Ask my family. I'm a nicer person when I write well.
To others it might be that perfect beer or even a great glass of wine. A fine cigar. Good sex. You relish the moment. You crave the habit. You get weird when you skip days.
Let's call it quits from thinking we should call it quits. Either it's a part of you or it's not. It makes you a better person or it doesn't fit. I don't like anchovies, so I don't eat anchovies. Writing isn't anchovies. It's iced tea. And I'll have a glass in my hand until the day I die.


Susan said...

I'm with you, Hope. When I'm writing, I'm a better person. A happier person. A saner person. Anchovies are okay. Sweet tea is alright, too. Writing, well, writing is breathing. Susan

Unknown said...

A lovely analogy. Although, I'm a Yankee and don't understand the sweet tea thing. :)

It is so hard to explain to my husband, who is definitely not a writer, why I MUST write. The craving borders on an addiction at times, but I'm willing to keep feeding the addiction. The withdrawal symptoms are horrible!

BECKY said...

I'm right there with you, Hope!

Barb Hodges said...

Hope, I agree. I must write also. My 10 year old granddaughter summed it up when she saw me take out my pad and pen. She said, "Most grandmas would pull out knitting, but no, you pull a pad and pen out of your purse." I got hooked on sweet tea this summer, by the way.

Andrea Dorn said...

I don't have the ability to call it quits. I simply have to write. Yes, sometimes I get upset and fed up with trying to publish but I never think of quitting because I know I can't. Thanks for the analogy! My grandmother always made us sweet tea and we're Midwesterners.