by Deborah Elliott-Upton
My dad has been racing since he was 17 years old. He is now 74 and the oldest driver at the dirt track in my home town. A news reporter asked when he would quit and he said, â€œProbably when Iâ€™m dead.â€ I understand that drive (pun intended.)
I started attending a formal Bible study in 2000. A friend asked, â€œWhen will you be done?â€
â€œItâ€™s a seven year commitment,â€ I answered. In fact, seven years later I havenâ€™t ended Bible studies, just that particular Bible study.
When my mom phones, she always asks, â€œWhat are you doing?â€ My answer is usually, â€œWriting.â€ One day she countered with, â€œStill?â€
It was funny to her, but I didnâ€™t laugh. Writing is a serious business, even if youâ€™re writing comedy â€“ maybe especially when youâ€™re writing comedy.
Itâ€™s odd the assumptions non-writing people make. When I finished my first novel, a lot of people were upset they couldnâ€™t find it in the book stores. If only finishing a book automatically meant it was published. Arguably, with some writers, that is a given, but I doubt most started their writing careers that way.
Rejection in any form is not pleasant, but when your work is rejected â€“ repeatedly â€“ how many would continue in that profession? Writing, like any art form, is the exception. Why do we keep writing? The answer is: we are addicted. We would not stop writing even if we knew no one but ourselves would ever read our work, much less pay the bills. That is a really serious addiction.
The first year I seriously began writing with an idea for profit, I worried about the reams of paper, the legions of ink cartridges and enormous amount of rejections piling up. Conferences, contest fees and book purchases began to expand my budget into an uncomfortable bulge. When I mentioned my concerns to my loving husband, he hugged me close and said, â€œDonâ€™t worry about it, honey. Itâ€™s nothing like when you tried ceramics.â€
Trying to keep your family and friends hopeful for your writing success when you have nothing to show for it except receipts and rejections is difficult. Only the truly addicted will continue.
So many writers â€“ some wonderfully talented â€“ have asked me if they should quit writing after a certain amount of time with no sales. I always give the same answer: If you can, do. If you canâ€™t, you were meant to write.
Yes, itâ€™d be nice if we all sold whatever we wrote. Itâ€™d be nice if everyone loved our work and showered us with accolades. But, in truth, it isnâ€™t the money or the accolades or the fame that keeps us writing. Itâ€™s the drive.
I inherited more than a lead foot from my dad. I imagine Iâ€™ll still be writing when Iâ€™m 74. I donâ€™t know how to stop.