When You Want to Quit, But You Know You Can’t

There are a lot of days when I question what I’m doing with my career. Take Monday, for example, when I found out that my car didn’t just need three new tires. It needed new brakes too. I wanted to cry, but, somehow, resisted that urge. Sunday is another example. It was my birthday. Overall, it was an awesome day, but all the while, I couldn’t help but think that I’m too old now to be doing this, that maybe I should accept failure and move on to something more stable.

I’ve done a lot of stupid and difficult things in my life. Trying to write for a living is, by far, the most stupid and difficult of the lot. In the past few weeks, the urge to quit has been stronger than ever. But, I’ve quit things before and know from that experience that regret is more painful than frustration. Regret is paralyzing. You can’t do anything to fix the mess you made. Frustration hurts, but you can play through it like a jock. There’s always still hope that, in the end, you’ll have a championship ring heading your way.

A decade ago, I started writing seriously. Before that, I had sold stories here and there, but it was just a fun thing to do. I liked talking to bands. If someone was willing to pay me to run those interviews, that was a bonus. Then I quit something big, realized that I had potentially fucked up my life and had to do something about it. Writing provided a sense of purpose, but, I wasn’t very good at it. I knew I wasn’t very good at it, so I wrote more and more. Every now and then, someone would take notice of what I did and throw a gig my way. Gradually, those gigs got better. One even morphed into a full-time job that lasted two years. It was a very slow process.

It’s still a slow process. Because I didn’t think I was very good, I didn’t chase after the bigger gigs, I didn’t try to negotiate for better pay. I didn’t think I was good enough to do what I was doing, so I let my career stall. Something happened at the end of this year, though. I looked back at what I wrote and realized that most of it didn’t suck. After ten years of trying harder than I ever have, this is the first year where I felt like I was a good writer. I’m actually proud of some of the work that has been published in 2013. It feels almost sinful, like I’m setting myself up to crash through the gates of hell because I dared to feel good about something. Maybe that means I’m in too deep to quit.

Once you quit something, there’s very little chance that you can reclaim what you lost. I’m not willing to do that again. It’s not stubbornness, so much as it is understanding that this work has value that goes beyond money. The stories mean a lot to me. They might mean something to the people who were interviewed for them, or to the people who read them.

Right now, I’m trying to rethink how I go about telling these stories. There are more avenues to explore. Self-publishing is part of that, and you’ll be seeing more self-published work from me in 2014. There are plenty of publications that I’ve never contacted. I’ll be hitting them up soon too. Next year, bigger and better things will happen.