A couple of weeks ago, I was seriously considering laying aside my writing. Things had not been going well, they didn’t feel like they were going to get better, and I was near the point of giving up. Not permanently. My thought process ran more along the lines of putting the writing off to one side, getting a “regular” job, and writing in my spare time.
To be clear, this wasn’t only because the writing was (and still is, to some degree) at a low point. There were some strong personal reasons as well that made the idea of giving up writing a very appealing one. And besides, there was some of the typical mental struggle mixed in, the one where a writer goes, “Oh, I’ve been driving at this book for so long and nothing has come of it. Why do I bother? It would be far better to get a ‘normal’ job and be like other people…”
Overall, it was a wretched spot to be in. I knew that I wasn’t being realistic, that I was just mentally running away from everything. But why not?
The world felt, in a way, like it was crashing down. Things are set to happen that I have no control over. So, since I can’t control them, why not just up and take flight, seizing the freedom to at least choose my own course before everything else collapses?
To express it another way, I felt like I was living “The Last Goodbye” song. There’s a part that runs:
Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away
Believe me, I felt the road calling. I still do, at times.
And yet to have come “all this way”, to have stuck at the writing for four years only to bid it farewell now…
Nope, I can’t do it.
Writing is a flat out awful job sometimes. It is a lonely, unstable, and often boring and wearying to an immense degree. There are the dreaded editing and proofreading stages, not to mention the problem of formatting the book. Oh, and let’s not forget all the criticism a story attracts. (Why else would you write a book if not for others to pass judgment on it?)
Yet I still can’t give it up. There is a whole collection of reasons, but basically it all boils down to a single important one, the same one that drove Eric Liddell to compete in the 1924 Olympics: “When I run [write], I feel God’s pleasure.”
Writing, for me, is a vocation. It is something I feel meant and bound to do, and not just with regard to writing books. Other aspects of it—blogging, letter-writing, mentoring and encouraging fellow writers, etc.—also bring happiness and satisfaction.
And not just to me.
It is amazing hearing about the effect a letter or a simple email had on someone, or how much delight a reader took in a story. No other job could afford me this happiness nor could it open the incredible pathways writing has to me.
So, here I am, still writing. It isn’t that great right now (boredom is a primary obstacle), and, frankly, I’m hankering to be done with this book and off on a new adventure. Yet first this road must run its course.
Only then will I bid farewell to Book 3.