Thursday, March 11, 2010

Enough is Enough - Part II: When to give up on your own work

Last week I talked a little bit about how much time I give to a published book and when I finally put it down unfinished. Reading is so subjective that we, as writers, inherently understand that what we write is not going to grab everyone. Okay, fine. But how do you know when what you're writing won't grab anyone? When do you stop working on something, pack it in, call it a day?

I'm wondering this because it's been a frustratingly long week of rejections, most of them impersonal. Based on my own personal mood meter, one encouraging rejection is worth seven form rejections. This week the weight is heavier on the form rejection side.

Now, I know that's just the nature of the business. We write, we revise, we polish, we submit, we wait and hope. But, inevitably, in the time between the submitting and the response, hope gives way to doubt. Doubt grows....

But we are an optimistic bunch, especially the childrens book writers. As a reformed golfer, I can understand this mentality: it's the one sweet shot in an entire round that brings us back to the game. Same goes for writing. A little encouragement goes a long way. Cruel, cruel hope.

But what about that particular work that you spent so much time and effort on, poured heart and soul into, sweated and cried over? What if you just can't seem to get any positive feedback on it? When do you say, "Enough is enough. Time to stop beating this dead horse. Time to put me out of its misery."

Or do you just keep revising and resubmitting, believing that someday, somewhere, someone will see that secret little something in it that you saw in it when you created it? Denial? Optimism? Or just being realistic?

Just wondering.

Anyway, I've got a dead horse to beat some life into.


  1. This must be the week for impersonal form rejections, because I've had my share too (and maybe someone else's too, by the looks of things).

    I don't know when enough is enough. I've just read that Tony Hillerman's agent told him to 'lose the Indians'. What if he'd caved in and done just that? We'd never have met Leaphorn and Chee. So many good authors have stuck it out; I think I'll have to do the same thing myself or I'll end up feeling like a wimp,.

  2. I know, I saw the post on Verla too. Amazing. I guess I just needed to vent. You know, work myself back around to the point of getting cracking again.

  3. Don't give up!!! Don't give up!!! Don't give up!!! Keep trying. Work on something new if you have to. But DON"T GIVE UP!