21 January 2011

Quitters Never Win

Have I mentioned I wrote a novel while I was going through chemo? During each of my four treatment cycles, I'd have one good week, and I'd write as if my life depended on it. Because it did. Really, keeping my mind active and focused on creative pursuits helped me get through the not-so-good days, and there were more than a few of those. When I was feeling particularly crappy, I'd just remind myself, "Your story is waiting. And another good week is coming."

Before I knew it, I'd finished a draft. This seems like an accomplishment in and of itself, but of course, it's just the beginning of the process. And now that my treatments are behind me, and I'm on the road to recovery, I have a revision to face without the same sense of immediacy. I have a lot of experience helping other writers with their novel revisions, but this is relatively new territory for me. For those who have been reading this blog for a while, you might remember I finished a draft and attempted a novel revision (for a completely different story) about a year and a half ago, before I got sick. At a certain point, I got stumped by a fundamental flaw in the story, and then I psyched myself out, and set the story aside.

I've realized this is my m.o.; while I consider myself a go-getter in every other part of my life, when it comes to writing longer fiction, I've been a low-down, dirty quitter. Over the past few weeks of this new year, I've looked through my old project files, and guess what I found? The beginnings of no fewer than FIVE novel first drafts. And many of them are not terrible! I think I've just lacked long-term confidence and focus. Also, I have a tendency to get discouraged just when things are getting challenging, aka interesting.

Well, NO MORE, I say. This time around, I absolutely refuse to quit. And I refuse to allow my precious creative energy to be compromised by fear or insecurity, or the unwillingness to make my own writing a priority. From now on, I'm going to do whatever it takes to keep myself motivated, and positive, and brave.

Are you with me?


  1. Health, healing and creativity.
    I am with you!

    I am practicing the fine art of completion this year. I am taking each project as far as I can before it has to rest in a drawer. I have to be braver about letting work see the light of day!

  2. I like "the fine art of completion." I'm with you, too, LLH! : )

  3. Somehow I missed this one! What a terrific and inspiring post, Kara. And congratulations on your draft! That's a big, big deal. After I finished my first draft of my first novel, I couldn't believe how good it felt. And when I finished my first major revision of my first novel, I swore I'd never criticize another novel again, because at least the writer had DONE IT, had written and revised a whole novel.

    I read so many books--and authors make it seem so "easy--it's amazing how difficult it is to write a novel, even a bad one. (LOL.) It's also stunning (to me) how long it seems to take me. It takes what it takes, I guess.

    I'm glad that you've found these other drafts and see potential in them. I'm excited to follow your journey in the longer form! You may have been a "quitter" (or just put stuff aside) before, but you don't have to do that any more. You can keep taking steps forward. One sentence at a time. I'm cheering for you!