Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hopefully Unstoppable

Other than the threat of jail, what stops you from reaching your goals? There could be a plethora of things you’re trying to obtain, whether it’s reaching your daily writing goal, to decisions that could have a major effect on your life.

Liz Kreger had a wonderful blog last Monday. She talks about when writers get into the meat of a story, but suddenly the story stops working for them. She poses the question of moving forward with the hope it comes together, or just chucking it in the trash.

That got me to thinking about my three EIP’s (Epics In Progress) sitting on the hard drive. From the beginning of each, they moved along with ease. Everything meshed, yet now they sit unfinished.

I have varying reasons for letting each slide. One of the stories just stopped talking to me, and then the eye interruptions kept me off the computer for a few weeks, which I did under doctor’s orders. With my current EIP mum at the time, I picked up pen and paper and started a new EIP. Worked just as well. Nothing was going to steal my writing edge. Reaching the one hundred page mark, another story grabbed my muse, and well, you know how it is. Some things you just can’t ignore – EIP number three.

And then a finished EIP came back to haunt me. Literally, one day I was doing some banal task when I swear I heard one of its character say, “You know, Calarco, you really screwed me over in that story. I deserved a better ending. You had it all wrong.” I might be paraphrasing – this happened last summer, but still, I listened, letting those three EIP’s slide some more.

Am I crazy? Those who know me can answer that one without blinking. But the question remains: Will I pick up the others where I left off?

Answer: Absolutely. Like Liz, I finish what I start, albeit I don’t right away.

But what if after finishing the one I’m on, which I promised myself that I would, the others remain silent? Do I make a decision to trash them as “bad ideas” or call them hopeless from the beginning?

Hopeless is a sad word, one that leads to the inevitable end of the road known as quitting all together. Yet, as Liz mentioned in her blog, she believes that “no book is hopeless.” I want to take her statement one step further. I think that it’s not so much that the “book is hopeless” as it’s just that Liz is an extremely hopeful person.

As writers, I think we’ve all had minor lapses where we wanted to quit. Some actually did. But what separates the ones who never pick up pen again, from those who, even if you cut off all their fingers, do?

Where there’s a will there’s a way, right? Or maybe not. Maybe it’s the fact that survival courses through their veins. Maybe those hopeful souls have survived life’s difficulties and naturally can’t quit.

A week or so before my mother died, I stood by her bedside. Holding my hand, she asked, “Am I going to die?” I nodded, lips tight and whispered, “Yes.” She replied, “Well, there’s always hope.” Shortly thereafter, ovarian cancer won, but her words never left me. “There’s always hope.”

In my life I have found that hope doesn’t fit cliché. It’s not that it “springs eternal” or “floats,” but it’s what keeps us moving forward. Hope, to me, is a by-product of survival – the positive edge that enables us to leap hurdles we’d never consider doing if previously asked.

I believe there comes a time in everyone’s life when the stopping point comes. But, it’s not quitting, it’s letting go after the good fight, when hope is our strength to letting go.

Survivors are wired with hope, I believe. Impossible, as well as quitting, never occurs to those who’ve already survived what others think is hopeless. Liz Kreger knows this, and I believe that’s why she feels that no book is hopeless.



spyscribbler said...

Gosh, I don't know. Sometimes I feel the universe just sets circumstances in your life so that you have no choice to quit, during those moments we all consider quitting. I don't know.

I keep going! Mostly because I don't know where else to go, LOL!

Kath Calarco said...

Spy, I thing you pointed out something I failed to: that "you have not choice to quit." That's key - having a choice. But there are those who pick not quitting, and they are the ones, like you, who "don't know where else to go" because they are wired that way.

I guess it all boils down to unconsciously knowing your destiny (?).

Edie said...

I think you're talking about something bigger than books. There are books that I won't go back to because I think I've grown and the ideas aren't good enough for who I've changed into. Other books remain in my mind and maybe, more important, my heart. I'd like to rewrite them when I get a chance. Maybe when I'm done with my wip, I'll do that.

Anonymous said...

I'll quit a project in a heartbeat if a better one comes along and steals my attention. It's just the way things are in my fickled world. Do I give up on them? If I did, I'd probably delete them. Instead, they've turned me into a story pack rat where they just sit there unfinished on my hard drive(s). Will I ever get back to them? I have no idea. However, there is one I might save from the scrap heap, only because I remembered how much fun it was to write it. Not to mention, it was the inspiration for the book I sold to Samhain. ;-)

Stephen Parrish said...

Given how well written this post is, you've got a lot more than hope on your side.

lainey bancroft said...

Great post, Kath!

I agree. I don't think a book can be hopeless, but like Edie and Marcia said--in slightly different ways--some projects are more worthy of hope.

I have a few things I've 'shelved' that probably have some merit if I dug deep enough, but when other ideas appear with their own hope built in, I go with them. I don't think of it as quitting. I consider it channelling my energy in a more hopefull direction.

Kath Calarco said...

Edie, so true. My thoughts on quitting is bigger than books. I think it's more about those who quit writing entirely. The fight is too overwhelming, perhaps. We all know how daunting the publishing world is. And of course, there are those writers who give-up because maybe they've already achieved their writing goals.

I don't know. To me writing is more than just "something I do." It's a part of who I am, and gets bigger every day.

Kath Calarco said...

Marcia, that's usually what makes me drop one WIP for another. It's not that the current WIP got boring, though. Usually it's just that another idea either won't quit until I write it, or I have to write it before it slips through a hole in my gray matter. ;)

Kath Calarco said...

Stephen! Long time no see. Thanks so much for the compliment. Whatever is on my side, I hope it stays.

Kath Calarco said...

Lainey, love that comment: channeling your energy in a more hopeful direction.

After reading everyone's comments I've come to the conclusion that perhaps writing is the offspring of hope.

Robin said...

This was a great post, Kath!! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. Anybody's who's forgotten about hope should read it.

I'm hopeful every day, for different reasons. When it comes to my writing, like you, it's part of who I am. I can't imagine not writing. Do I ever feel like quitting? Oh yeah. But it's the pursuit of being published that I consider abandoning, not writing. Writing makes me happy. I've got a couple of early stories that I think about going back to sometime, but right now I've got so many new ideas swirling around in my head that I wish I wrote faster. How to know when the right time is for a certain story is tough. I *hope* my instincts will lead me in the right direction.

Kath Calarco said...

Robin,I've got the same problem. There are so many ideas in my head that I worry they've disappear. Maybe that's why I have three unfinished WIP's on the hard drive. It was a matter of getting them out so they wouldn't fall through the holes in my head.

Liz Kreger said...

What a terrific blog, Kath.

I personally think hope does spring eternal. I just figure that after investing so much time in a story (whether the actual writing or the hours of mulling and research) its such a pity to give up on it.

I do hope you go back to your EIP. Seems to me that you haven't quite given up on them yet.

Thank you for the story of your mother. As a cancer survivor (and still going through treatment) I know what she went through. There is always hope. I keep that in mind each and every time I have a recurrence.

Kath Calarco said...

Liz, you are my hero. Whenever I feel as if physically I can't move forward (you know, my eye thing) I immediately think of you.

And yep, I'm going to return to those EIP's. My goal is to be the oldest ever debut author.