Let me be clear, I have not problem with quitting anything. Seriously. I’m actually a big fan of quitting! Piano lessons? Haven’t touched a keyboard since I was 15. Certain unnamed former boyfriends? Never a doubt. Jobs that weren’t satisfying? There’s always a better one out there. Novels I don’t care for? 50 pages, that’s it. Life’s short. There’s no reason to spend your time on something that’s not working for you. The thing is, writing was never one of those things.
The night of my book launch at Books Inc in Mountain View, CA, someone asked me what my motivation was for working on my novel for so long. Before I gave it much thought, I told them that it was fear of never finishing. I just didn’t want to have an unfinished novel in my drawer. I just couldn’t stand the idea. I sort of walked around all the time with this image of myself as a published novelist in my head like it was already a job I had. And if this novel wasn’t the one that would get that for me, it’d be the next one. So there.
Yeah, OK, all of this sounds a little glib perhaps even a little too pat. Where’s the drama? Where’s the plot? It’s in the writing itself. There were many times, still are, that I agonized over the every word. Sometimes it feels like I’m trying to pry words out of granite. That’s were all the stress and the doubt comes in, in the words. But as painful as it is, the words always come. And I know they’ll come because I’m a novelist. It’s my job.
Call it “leaning in” if you like, in the Sheryl Sandberg sort of way. Maybe that’s what it is. But whatever there is, there’s no doubt and no thought of quitting.