When Giving Up is OK


Growing up, I was always told to “Never give up.” It’s an old cliché. We’ve all heard it. There’s a million memes about it.  It’s simple motivation to push someone towards accomplishing a goal and if you’re in a Disney movie, it pays off 100% of the time.

Work hard and you’ll succeed.

Persevere and you will accomplish your goal.

Don’t give up and eventually you’ll reach the top of the mountain.

The only problem is, what happens when you don’t?

I’m a very goal-oriented individual. My father always preached about the importance of setting goals and working towards those goals and some of that advice actually sunk in. I wanted to go to college and major in creative writing and education. Nailed it. I wanted to land a full-time teaching job. Landed one. I wanted to get married and have children. Check and check. I wanted to sell my short fiction. Boom! Twelve short stories published. I wanted to learn all the words from The Goonies by heart. Hey you guuuuuuys!

But the goal of any writer is to publish a novel. So I wrote one. And I tried to get it published….71 times. And 71 publishers and agents said no. Sure, some of them asked to read the whole thing and some of them even liked it, but, in the end, I have 71 rejections for my first novel that I’ve accumulated over the past four years.

Now that’s hard to swallow because I always believed the cliché to be true. I figured if I worked hard enough eventually someone would say yes. So I wrote and rewrote and workshopped but it hasn’t happened. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve written two other novels since then and have a rough draft of another, but I’ve been shopping that first novel on and off for the past four years. After all, you always hear those stories about how many times famous novels were rejected before they finally found a home.

The problem is that you never hear any stories about novels that were rejected hundreds of times that were NEVER published because…well, that’s depressing as fuck and doesn’t make a very good Disney movie.

So I’m giving myself permission to give up…not on publishing a novel but on publishing my first novel. I can’t keep hoping it’s going to happen. I have too many other projects on deck. It’s tough, though. Everyone remembers his/her first. It’s tough to shove those characters into a drawer and say, “Sorry, guys, but I’m the only one who’s ever going to love you. Now get in there and shut the fuck up.” I have queries out for the novel to a dozen agents still and the Disney movie in me still thinks maybe I’ll get that last-minute “YES!” to save the day, but when it doesn’t happen, I’m ready and willing to tap out.

So this is for Doctor Ian Klein, my main protagonist who suffers from Humor Suppression Syndrome (a psychological disorder that prevents him from laughing) and his supporting cast of Uncle Dave, Ivy, Brooke, Amber, Gail, and the crazy guy who fucks trees in the park. You will always have a place in my heart. Farewell.


~ by themoderntranscendentalist on October 28, 2015.

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