#AuthorLife Why My Decision to Quit Writing Was The Best Ever
At some point last month, I decided to give up and quit writing. Writing fiction I mean. As in short stories and novellas and novels. Just quit writing those, and forget fiction. I can’t actually quit writing, as that is a huge part of what pays the bills. For those of you who still don’t know, I run two travel blogs (which actually paid for all my trips to author conferences), and I promote other author’s books as well. That one about the book PR you might have known though.
If it’s fiction we’re talking about, the truth is I haven’t really been writing in a while. The moment Dawn to Dusk was out of the editing and publishing process, I stopped. First because I was busy. Then… Well, that was the problem that led me to the brilliant decision of quitting writing: my struggle to figure out why I wasn’t writing. Like tons of words, and every day.
See, I’ve never ever got a writer’s block. I never stop getting story ideas, my characters never shut up, and if I open a word document, it’s not like I can’t get one word out. In fact, during this period, I got another chapter of Magic Unleashed out and got ideas for several more, I wrote on an older work in progress, Sky and Storm, and I started a couple of new stories. It wasn’t as if the well had dried up, I just didn’t really want to write.
I knew I should write though. I felt terribly guilty of the end of every day for not writing. And it was even worse whenever I read updates on word counts on completed stories or submissions. I wasn’t envious of my friends, I just felt that, unlike them, I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to. I felt like my readers and my writer friends would feel so disappointed in me. I started dreading conversations with close friends because of the inevitable “How’s the writing going?” type of question.
So, if I wasn’t uninspired, or the victim of a writer’s block, why didn’t I want to write? Why was the idea of something that used to make everything better, so repulsive to me right now?
Is it because of how I feel in the author community? Maybe. I am non-PC to the core, and would stand up for anyone’s right to free speech. But see, I confused the readers/writers community, especially the LGBTQIA+ one, with my group of friends. It’s not the same. We don’t have the same cultural background. With my friends, we can argue for hours. And by argue, I mean debate an issue, till we just agree to disagree and we are left with nothing more than a better understanding of the other’s position. And we’d then laugh and shoot the breeze the next day, without having ruined our friendship. The free marketplace of ideas does not exist in my communities. And rants are only okay on some topics and for some people. Only some have the right to have had enough. And if you fall in the wrong category, you’re screwed.
But that is nothing new. Been there before, got used to it.
I thought it might be because I barely register in the food chain. I am not A, B, or C-lister level just yet. Sure, I’ve hit a couple of best seller lists, but let’s face it, I’m way more known for my promo work and event attendance and panels than I am for my books. I considered that for a while, but then realized… it’s not that either. I knew from the start, unless I got really lucky, this would take a while to turn into a main stream of income. Basically because I have a lot of other work to do, and some of that, like the travel blogging, I never really want to give up for good.
Then I thought of the hate mob and witch hunt of about a month ago. See, I said something unpopular on Facebook, got into a debate with a feminist, and it resulted in my being blocked. That was fine, I expected it. Then a good friend showed me some screenshots of said feminist (who I am pretty sure has never bought one of my books) posting on her page about how she’d never buy my books. From her post and her comments, it was clear to me she hadn’t even read my initial post and the article (not video) I’d shared. Or any of my comments. The fact she never bothered to read it or understand it was clear to anyone with two neurons and enough energy for a synapse. Yet people I’d known for a long time and whose work I’d promoted from the very beginning of my interest in writing jumped on the train of “what a horrible, bigoted, and all kinds of -phobic person Alina is.” Mind you, they hadn’t read my post, they didn’t even know it was me. They had no context, there was no benefit of the doubt, they decided there was something very wrong with people like me. And maybe there is something very wrong with me and my opinions. But to decide that, they’d have needed a bit more investigating.
Yeah, that one hurt a lot. But I am not really sorry for my opinions. I still think the life of women under Sharia law is a more important feminist issue than the state of undress of video game characters. Or how air conditioning is sexist. And still, while I don’t doubt racism exists, the tactics and a lot of the thought leaders of BLM scare the crap out of me. I also doubt they’ve made anything better in terms of race relations. I would very much welcome arguments that attempt to prove me wrong.
I don’t hold the position that my truth is absolute. But I also don’t think my right of critiquing or expressing unpopular opinions should be infringed upon. Sure, don’t buy my books if you think they or I am not worth it. It’s your right to do so. Even if you are who I thought of as a friend. Would I appreciate the right to defend myself as it happens when you give people the benefit of the doubt? Sure, but it’s not necessary. It was also not why I stopped writing. It’s just why I stopped expressing myself that much on Facebook. And no, it wasn’t because I was afraid my meager sales with plummet further. It was because I did not want to go through the hurt of friends not even questioning other’s statements about me or any other human being. I did not want to see people assuming the worst about everybody. And maybe a little because I realized I might have done it in the past. Even when I was proven right, I should have not been so quick to judge. Live and learn, I guess!
I was almost out of reasons why I wasn’t writing at this point. So I thought it might be because of stress related to work. It’s been difficult, with tons to do lately, a lot of uncertainty in certain projects, and new proposals which imply taking on more work. A general burnout would explain all of this mess. Except that it’s always been like this. Tons of work, and then writing. Tons of stress, which, in all honesty, is less of an issue now because my boyfriend is really great at teaching me how to chill and stop getting so worked up and upset over things I can’t control or change. The person who never saw work as just work can now just stop. Stop at just doing the best at her job and then sending an invoice. Stop at not caring whether client X cares as much about their business as I do.
In conclusion, no block to stop me, no poor sales to cut my enthusiasm, no mean people on the internet making me stop, no unfairness of like making me want to quit writing. So why the hell was I now writing?
After a lot more soul searching, I found the answer! All of the sudden, I was standing there with the answer to the universe and life and everything. Or, if you want to be strict about it, the answer to my not writing situation. And it was as mind boggling as 42. The answer was…. wait for it! It does not matter! It does not matter why I am not writing. I am just not, so I should stop pushing myself.
That, my friends, is how I quit writing fiction. I still cringe a bit when I am asked about my WIPs. I still feel a bit guilty when people post about their word count, and a new story they finished. But at the end of the day, it’s all fine, because I am the author who quit writing books.
Now that I quit, I couldn’t be happier. Why, you ask? Because the pressure is gone, because I stopped feeling like crap, like a fraud author, like I wasn’t doing enough. All of that, the lowered levels of stress, it all helped. Spending time with my boyfriend, meeting my weight loss goals, and a sunny September and still sunny October–all that also helped. But what helped most? Well, can’t you guess? I started writing again. Not because I have to, or I should. But because I want to. Small, baby steps. A few hundred words this month. But I am writing. I don’t know why or how, or which was the reason for me stopping in the first place. But as long as the words have not abandoned me, I am happy.
Later Edit: Yes, I meant I starter writing FICTION again 😀 Apparently I hadn’t made it obvious enough.