“Why don’t you just quit writing books?” Third asked this question in the heat of an angry exchange wherein he had not done his chores and I had caught him.
Tears sprang into being without my welcome, because this is a question deep at the core of my inner critic. Why don’t you just quit writing books? Why don’t you just quit?
My income from writing is meager, barely countable, and mostly gets reinvested in my writing. I have no known amazing prospect in the wings about to come to full flight. I have a tiny audience.
Why don’t you just quit writing books? Third was deflecting. He went on to push for a bike ride together or climbing a tree together. What he really meant wasn’t what he said but something more akin to, why do you write when you could do things with me? Or, why do you write when I have chores to do? But Third has a knack for using words for maximum impact, even when it’s subconscious.
In the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron advises artists, don’t pick up the first doubt. Picking up the first leads to a binge on self-doubt and, possibly, self-pity. Nothing halts creativity like a self-doubting, self-pitying binge.
Still, the question circles my brain and rides my spine up and down. Why don’t you just quit?
- Because I have stories to tell?
- Because I need to write?
- Because success remains possible?
- Because I’m a recovering quitter?
- Because I want to live?
Why don’t I just quit? The honest answer on some days: because quitting writing, for me, means quitting so much more, and I cannot afford that cost.
My depression already asks why I don’t just quit. It already reminds me how everyone else’s lives would be improved if I stopped writing and did something else. So when a human I love says the same thing, it gives me pause. Not because the depression is right but because it is so obviously wrong. Once I hear it aloud, a spell breaks.
Why don’t I just quit? Because I don’t want to. Because I don’t have to. Because the world is better for my words and my self, even if only in fractions.
Having written, it’s time to go climb a tree with a certain boy.