Monday, 25 August 2008

When to Give Up

I read a sad post from another blog friend today. She has been writing since high school but has struggled without support and friends in her area, struggled with rejections and felt alone in her uphill battle to be a writer. She is, as she puts it, "throwing in the towel." This saddened me because it could be me. Every so often I re-examine my goals and priorities and wonder if the writing life is really the life I want to pursue.

I certainly can't judge her decision. Everyone has their limit. I wonder where mine is. Like all women, there are so many things I have to keep up with and so much expected of me, it seems impossible to do the things I have to do let alone the things I want to do. Usually I find I can do so much better. But that's good, it gives me direction and something to focus on.

Today I've been thinking about the writing aspect of my life. Ever since I could hold a pencil I've written. I used to ask my mother to tell me how to spell the words so I could write them down. I probably drove her nuts. Once I learned to read and write, I used up scraps of paper and notebooks writing silly stories and poems down. I didn't I shared them with many people. Not many showed any interest. I had one great-grandmother who encouraged me to write and develop those talents and I still treasure her words today.

In junior high I wrote the required stories for English class but most of my personal writing was poetry - stuff filled with the standard teenage angst. High school was more of the same. As an adult, life took over and the creative writing I had always thrived on was put away.

I remember deciding to write something when my two oldest children were very young. I sat at the table and stared at the lined paper in front of me. That is really all I did. Sure, I wrote a few things down. Then scribbled them out. I wrote a few more things and finally threw the paper away. It seemed I had let the talent lie dormant for too long.

In the last ten years I have felt a renewed energy to write. I still don't know if the time is right, but I do it anyway. Maybe I'll never be published anywhere other than our local newspaper. Maybe I'll end up with a box of novel manuscripts under my bed. Maybe someday I'll actually be able to find my book in the bookstore. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

I find myself wishing I could live closer to the center of the LDS writing community and belong to active writing groups and attend all the conferences available in Utah, but I love my home and will have to learn to be an LDS writer on my own. Sometimes the pressures of daily life are overwhelming, I feel isolated and lonely, and sometimes I think about "throwing in the towel." Maybe someday that will be the right thing to do. But when I give any serious thought to the direction my life is taking, even looking at other options, the same phrase keeps running through my head. "You are supposed to write. Just write." So I do.


Kimberly said...

Wow. I could've written it. My writing life followed a very similar timetable.

Rick said...

Write on, Stephanie. Write on!

Jennifer said...

I quit writing once, too. I'd been trying to write a novel forever (I still haven't finished it. LOL) and I got to this point after my second child was born and I was suffering from PPD that I just couldn't go on writing any more. I put all my stuff away in file folders, or saved away on hard drives, and just gave up.

It was several years later that a good friend of mine called me up. She had been packing for a move and she came across some chapters I'd given her to get her opinion on. She said she re-read them and was really impressed and wanted to encourage me to pick it back up again.

I pretty much had to start from scratch because my files were saved in such an old version of Word Perfect that I never could actually resurrect them.

Anyway, I wouldn't say that "the end" is ever really the end. And sometimes a break is a good thing. But I like what you say at the end of your post. That's where I am right now. Even though writing is hard and discouraging, I just keep trying because I know it's what I'm supposed to be doing, and it does bring me joy. Sometimes. :)

Don said...

Yeah, I hear ya on that "isolated and lonely" bit. I think your thousand miles are about as long as my thousand miles.

I know I couldn't do it without this technology to keep me connected, and I'm very grateful for it.

And I look forward to seeing everyone at the writer's conference!

Karlene said...

I live in Utah, but it doesn't help that much. I still don't write as much as I want to write. I quit for years, when my children were growing up. I'm trying to get going again. Even if I never publish, I write because it's who I am. I have to.

David G. Woolley said...

Writing is a lonely task. Its just you, you're ideas and a blank screen. Why do you think so many writers end up going nuts? They spend far too much time with themselves or with the characters of their own creation to be considered even remotely sane.

There are no special advantages living in the center of the LDS writing culture. If you lived in Utah you would only increase the number of writing socials you could attend. It would likely not increase the word count.

You have a unique perspective on the LDS world. Use that to your advantage. You live in a small town. So did Anne of Green Gables. I've always wanted to write a small town novel about growing up in Magrath, Alberta Canada. Its full of Mormons, but it isn't in the heart of Mormondom. It would be a wonderful, fun read worthy of the very best in writing.

Good luck. And keep your isolation and your independence. It is a wonderful asset. Not a liability.

David G. Woolley

Stephanie Humphreys said...

There are huge advantages living away from the mainstream mormon culture. At the same time, I struggle to find a writer's group here and envy the numerous groups my other writer friends have access to. I also hear about many conferences in Utah, but because of distance and cost, I have to carefully pick one to attend each year. There are pros and cons to living either place. And it doesn't matter the location, I'm still compelled to write. I'll make it wherever I am.

Marcia Mickelson said...

Hang in there, Stephanie. I think we've all thought about giving up at different times. I get bummed about missing all the Utah stuff too, like writer's conferences and other things. I live in Texas, and it does feel a little lonely out here. Keep writing.

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