Why Don’t I Just Quit?

I’ve actually been thinking about quitting writing quite a lot. Writing is hard work and takes up a lot of my time. I told myself that I needed to do this, for me, that no matter what. However, I’m beginning to worry that my friends and family see me as selfish and foolish, and would prefer that I give up this dream of being as well known an Author as Neil Gaiman, George R R Martin or Anne Rice.

My close family. My parents and my sister, are being very supportive. My Sister has even challenged me to finish Hermes925 by the summer, and I wouldn’t be able to muddle by at all if it wasn’t for the monthly financial assistance from my Mum and Dad. The rest of my family, however, have not become subscribers or shown much interest in my writing whatsoever.

I currently live with my Grandparents. I don’t expect them to become patrons, they are already doing more than enough by giving me a roof over my head and a place to sleep until I get back on my feet. They used to feed me too, but they can no longer afford too and I worry that I continue to be a drain on their budget. Their electricity and water bills must have gotten higher since I got here, especially with my girlfriend spending all her time here too.

That’s partly why I took the part-time job. I want to help out while I’m here, contribute to the bills and groceries. I’d still rather pay for it by writing, but the income from my Patreon.com page is only up to $15 (£11.95) per month. I also want to save up to get a better place for me and my girlfriend. I’ve seen gaming tables bigger than this room. I’m only working 2-3 days per week, but it’s already put a strain on my writing time.

 

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This was posted to Facebook the same day I was told I needed to do more chores.

 

I’ve been asked by several members of the family to help Grandma and Grandad with dishes, dusting, and other little cleaning jobs. This is completely reasonable and the least I can do for the generosity they’ve shown me. One family member has asked me to also begin taking over the larger jobs. Typically Grandad likes to do these jobs himself and has never asked me to help. However, I don’t want to further alienate my family.

I know some people manage to write entire novels in just 2-4 hours per week, but I honestly don’t know how. This blog is about the only thing I freewrite in one draft. Hermes925 always gets at least two drafts. The rough draft is written on paper first, purposefully forcing me to rewrite it when I transpose it to the computer. The second draft is always much better than the first. I usually rewrite it again when I transpose earlier entries for publication elsewhere. I’m currently behind on the story, but you can read the most recent entry here.

As you probably know, Hermes925 also drew the attention of Project UbiquiCity, and I have a story I’m writing for them. The current draft is due at the end of this month. It’s not going to happen. It would be logical, of course, to be working on that right now instead of writing this rant, but the writing process is seldom logical. I often find that a story I need to get written just isn’t coming to me, but another story, or an article, is screaming to get written instead.

I don’t mind much that the science-fantasy story (the one about a physicist that can see faeries) has been put on a back burner for now since I’m stuck. I haven’t had any idea how to proceed with the rough draft for weeks. I do feel like I need to start the second draft. Perhaps something will change in the rewrite that will solve the impasse. I don’t have time right now.

I’d also like to begin re-writing my ghost story. The original was a short story in the form of a single letter written by a man who has was so obsessed with ghosts that he researched how to become one, and then killed himself with the intention of haunting the story itself. I hoped to send chills down the spine of the reader. It didn’t work and it got rejected by the magazine I submitted it to. So I now plan to write a longer story about the investigators that find his mutilated corpse, and show the reader what it’s like to be haunted by this ghost instead of relying on their imagination. I don’t have time right now.

I need to prioritise UbiquiCity and Hermes925, and also make time to help my Grandparents more, and continue to work the part-time job at the Whitewater Hotel. There are som many ideas swimming around. Sequels for stories I haven’t written yet. Projects that would allow people who can’t, or don’t, read to experience my stories.  So many wild fantasies, including the idea that one day I’ll be able to afford a big house with rooms aplenty that family and friends are welcome to stay in.

 

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I just got my new work shoes!

 

It might be time to “grow up” and quit writing. I’d be letting down the patrons I already have for Hermes925, the Distractions from Drudgery e-zine that has agreed to serialise Hermes925, and the team of writers I’m working with on Project UbiquiCity. However, I’d also have the time to take care of my Grandparents like I’ve been asked too, to the best of my ability.

I feel guilty for even debating this. I have to take the selfless path don’t I? If I don’t sacrifice my own happiness for others, then I’m just a selfish jerk. I want nothing more than to be a writer, but I simply can’t afford too. I used to tell myself that if I focussed on my writing now, treated it like my full-time occupation, that I’d soon be able to afford to pay for a professional carer for my Grandparents, and give generously to other friends and family also. It’s not happening yet.

I am making progress. It seems like a waste, and a terrible shame to give it all up now. It’s become such a habit to get up and write, I’d feel lost without it. I imagine myself on the couch with the grandparents, watching their tv shows and silently screaming to myself that I’m not writing. It’s true that I could be scribbling away in a notebook during this, but I really really don’t want the shows they watch to influence my writing. I suppose I could try it.

I also don’t really feel qualified to do my Grandparents housework. I’m terrible at it. I always have been. It’s a bad excuse for not wanting to help my grandparents, but it’s nevertheless true. My room is, I’m told, typical of those who are creatively minded. It’s messy. Grandma and Grandad do a better job of keeping the house clean than I ever could.

Then there’s my girlfriend, who is often content to watch a movie, play a video game, or nap while I’m writing. What do I expect her to do while I’m sitting with Grandma and Grandad or doing their housework? If I change my habits like I’m suggesting and spend more time keeping my Grandparents company instead of being holed up in my room scribbling down ideas or typing, do I ask her to help me keep an eye on the Grandparents?

It seems that the logical thing since she has time to nap and play games would be to ask her to do my Grandparents housework. After all, if we were living together and I was supporting us both with my writing as I would like, then it would be her doing the majority of the housework. It seems like a shitty thing to ask, even if it would be a logical solution.

I could still sit with the grandparents, scribble down ideas or even type them up on my laptop. I could use an earbud in one ear (leaving the other ear able to hear) to listen to music on my phone, or even use my tablet to play a better background movie or tv show than the one they’re watching. I’d also be available to help with the cleaning if need be. Particularly if I want a break from writing for a few minutes.

I might be able to make this work after all, simply by moving my ‘office’ from my desk in my room to the living room couch. It just wouldn’t be very fun for my girlfriend. It would be far more sensible and hurt fewer people, to just put writing on hold for a few years. I fear though that if I do that, I’ll be trapped. Unable to ever afford to do more than working my arse off at job I get paid as little as possible for, only to see all the money disappear into credit card debts, and expensive (but much needed) trips and hobbies to break up the tedium of life.

 

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I used to play Warhammer 40k a lot.

 

All I want to do is write, but it can’t be all about me or what kind of man would I be? On the other hand, what opportunities would I be giving up on if I stopped now? Would successfully balancing my writing, my job, my relationship and my grandparent’s chores finally earn the respect of the family and friends who have yet to become patrons, or even read my work?

What do you think?

Have a great day 🙂

One thought on “Why Don’t I Just Quit?

  1. My view is not a rosy one, but it is a meaningful one, and I will share it with you.

    Reality wants to destroy you. And it will. Piece by piece it will take bites out of you. I’m not talking about money and I’m not talking about time; I am talking about the “shape” of your soul. When reality bites you it often bites slowly, so slowly that you don’t even realize it. Sometimes it bites off parts you didn’t really need, which is fortunate and leaves you lighter than before. Sometimes it takes something you will have to struggle to rebuild. Either way, when reality takes a bite out of you – which it does time after time and will continue to do through all the long years of your life – it leaves you in a different shape than you were before.

    Some people do nothing about this, they simply let reality define their shape, eventually becoming nothing more than lumps of inertia. This is the easiest route, perhaps easiest for people of little intelligence and drive. But at the end of their lives – if they have any sense of character at all – they’ll realize they missed every opportunity to apply their energies *upon* the world, their lives will seem random – because they were – and they will despair over the pointlessness of their existence.

    Some people spend all their time putting effort into replacing the missing bites. They believe that if they do that, they can prevent anything from ever changing. But they’re wrong, change is inevitable, and after years of remaining as static as possible they will eventually be out of time, literally living in a time that doesn’t exist anymore. They will be perplexed and outmoded, and despair over the fact that the world wasn’t what they thought it was.

    A third option is to take advantage of reality, letting it change you bite by bite but also using these moments as opportunities to redefine your own shape. To become a new form, something not seen before in the world. To bite reality back, claiming a chunk of *it* as part of yourself. You can grow into your own unique shape, weird as it may be, defining yourself and redefining yourself as you continue to grow and change. Self-definition – insisting on controlling the shape of your own soul to the extent that you can – is an act of defiance against the attrition of reality.

    Despair is unavoidable; it will come in many ways and in many degrees. That much is always true. We lose loved ones, bad things happen in the world. These things cause despair, and they *will* happen to you. But the *worst* sort of despair is over the shape of your own soul. You can’t stop reality from biting. You can’t prevent all forms of despair. But whenever possible, and to whatever degree you have the energy to sustain – you can choose defiance.

    Liked by 1 person

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