m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...

Knowing When You've Quit

I was pointed to A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing via a mailing list. It comes with this handy summary of the past five hundred blog posts. Some of the advice struck me as much deeper than the topic of writing itself:

Know When To Quit

The measure of a human being is what makes them finally give up. The stronger the person, the more they can take.

In my previous blog post, I said that you are the hero in the movie of your life. Act like it.

What do you want? Who do you want to be?

That dictates what you need to do.

Quitting, like admitting you’re wrong, is one of the noblest things you can do in life. It says that you understand, and accept. It allows you to grow.

It gets rah-rah after that, as the reader may readily imagine after a lifetime of exposure to never-surrender, eternal-death-march optimism. Since I’m not quitting writing, I’ll just skip that bit. Rah-rah and all that.

But I’ve been quitting some other things—perhaps every other thing—besides writing recently, and wondering how I measure up. Nothing in particular made me finally give up; rather, I’m a crunch blossom. The economy broke, and I benefitted: the software industry quit me, and I just went along happily for the ride. All my quitting came to me unprompted, and some of it I didn’t even notice at the time. I suppose not knowing when you’ve given up is a species of strength; it has that scent of eternal death marches to it.

Which brings me to the moral of this post: it is as important to know when you’ve quit as to know when to quit. You don’t have to tell anyone; you can go on talking about that novel you’re never really going to finish or that interest that you’re just not that interested in anymore. (I don’t recommend lying to the DUA, however.) The important bit it to understand and accept for yourself that it’s all over except for the curtain calls. If you don’t have a handle on the plot of your life, the story is going to wander into some dead end that there’s no writing your way out of.