Every other day, I think about quitting.
I’ve written four novels, hundreds of short stories and articles and essays, and a book about a world famous metal band that has thus far been published in five languages worldwide. I’ve been interviewed by media in the US, Brazil, Portugal, Poland, England, and Spain, and one of my books–mentioned in the same breath as Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes–was selected by Ukraine’s most-read newspaper as a Book of the Month in late 2014.
Yet, every other day, I think about quitting.
I’ve been working at this writer gig for over 15 years. I started out submitting my work to agents, editors, and publishers before the digital shift took hold, mailing stacks of hardcopy manuscripts with SASEs enclosed, and was summarily rejected over and over and over again. Demoralizing, maybe, but it felt right; I always had this romantic impression that a true writer’s skin was covered with the scars of rejection.
And every other day, I thought about quitting.
I knew where I wanted to be, even if I didn’t know how to get there. I enrolled in an MFA program to learn how to, in a sense, write right (though I soon learned there is no such thing). My mentors, all of them amazing writers and human beings, highly respected in the world of traditional publishing, with countless awards and accolades and bestsellers to their names, told me the fight was fruitless. “Teach for money,” they said, “and write because you love it.”
But I was defiant. There were no thoughts of quitting then, only thoughts of proving them all wrong. I didn’t enroll in a writing program because I wanted to teach. I enrolled in a writing program because I wanted to write, goddammit.
“Why not write for money,” I said, because there is no fucking shame in that, “and write because you love it?”
But maybe they were right. The industry has changed. Reading habits have changed. People have changed. You’ve changed, I’ve changed, we’ve all changed. Success, as an ideal, is an illusion.
This morning, just like every other morning, I thought about quitting. I woke up thinking it was all pointless. My words didn’t matter–and wouldn’t ever matter–to anyone.
Then I had an idea, and I started writing.
I wrote all day.
And I couldn’t help myself.