Giving Up is A Lot Harder Than Trying

I know, I know. I missed ya’ll last night. But I was entering a writing competition, so I had to focus. Which already brings me to tonight’s topic.

I’ve been thinking of giving up on writing. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do with my life, and I’ve been able to do some amazing things with my writing so far. But lately, I’ve had trouble finding a (or the) reason to continue. It’s a huge world, and I feel like I have been swallowed up into it, no longer the big writer in the pond but no longer much of anything at all. How long can you keep talking when you realize that only a few people are listening? Won’t you lose your voice that way?

But before you get too drunk on all this whine, I am happy to tell you that I will not be giving up on writing any time soon. But probably not for the reason you think.

It’s not because I am finding the writing world full of encouragement and open doors. But because giving up is so much harder than trying. Yeah, you read that right. Stopping is much harder than starting. Do you know why? I’m not a gambler myself, but I’ve pulled the lever of a slot machine before. I’ve found that when you don’t win, you tell yourself that you don’t care, and that you are going to stop. And how long does that work for you? It’s like reverse psychology for your own brain: as soon as you tell yourself that you are officially, definitely giving up, it makes you push a little harder. Makes you think, maybe if I do it one more time…

This is because when you care, and you are passionate about something, you can’t get away from it. (Let’s be honest, we’re all passionate about getting rich instantaneously from a weekend in Vegas.)

Believe me, I don’t want to be a writer. Seriously. (Don’t you think I want to make tons of money so that my family doesn’t worry about me burning my poems for heat?) But it’s because I love language (and why I feel infinitely bad about burning poems) that I keep writing. I’ve tried to fight it. I’ve even tried to ignore my writing. And it works, for a while. But in the end, it is a part of me; a painful and really needy part of me, but one nonetheless.

And words are everywhere, you know. They will get inside your brain, and you’ll turn them over and over like a hard caramel in your mouth. And you’ll be enjoying that candy so much that you end up biting your tongue accidentally. And the pain and the sweetness are just two aspects of writing.

Anyway, my favorite singer, Loreena McKennitt once said, “I didn’t choose to be a singer. It chose me. I wanted to be a veterinarian.” And I’ve experienced the same thing in life. It’s hard to forge a path in your field. But it is even harder to turn away from it all. And believe me when I say that you should never rob the world of your talent. So, go forth and shine.

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