If You Can’t Be Resilient, Be Stubborn!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about quitting. Mostly that applies to running, but also (and I hate saying this out loud) to writing. I’ll get to that in a moment, but first, I want to discuss the running issue because it’s prominent in my life right now. And because it’s a useful metaphor for the writing.  

Running up that road, running up that hill, ignoring my tired feet.

I’d be lying if I said I love the act of running. I don’t. I’m slow and often struggle to complete even three miles. Yet, I like running because—sore feet and aching calves aside—I enjoy the feeling of being out on the trails. The energy of the endorphin rush. The pleasure of physical strength and health. The mental clarity of being outdoors. I get so many positives out of running that I can work past the minor aches. I now worry it may be causing long-term problems.

I’ve been struggling with lower back pain for a year and a half now. The pain appears every two or three months seemingly at random, and it lasts longer and increases in severity each time. My primary care physician referred me to physical therapy last April to help resolve the issue. Their program seemed to help, until a few days after my last appointment, in which they cleared me for all normal activities. I happily went for a run, and then BAM! The pain came back with a vengeance two days later.

I’m now seeing a chiropractor. I’ve been pain-free for nearly two months, but I’m weary of getting back on the running trails, even though they’ve said I can. No one’s told me explicitly that running is the root of my back problems, but I’m not sure I’m willing to risk it. The pain itself is bad enough, but the severely restricted mobility that comes with it is unbearable. In those moments, when I’m lying in bed because it’s all I can do without hurting, I’d happily give up running if it meant never experiencing that again. Now, let’s equate this with the pain of constant literary rejection.

This girl must be a querying writer.

I’d be lying if I said I like the act of writing. I don’t. It’s tedious and time-consuming. Yet, I love writing because—annoying plot holes and constant edits aside—I enjoy storytelling. The excitement of building new worlds. The pleasure of creating dynamic characters. The utter joy of completing a full manuscript. I get so many positives from writing that I can work past the related nuisances. But then it’s time to start the query cycle, and my love of writing gets sucked away.

This past year, each time I closed out another negative response from an agent or publisher for my middle grade book, I’d wonder if the hope of being traditionally published was worth the emotional toil of constant rejection. That sense of futility and “fraudiness” is also affecting the forward momentum of my current project. Why bother finishing this manuscript and querying it, if it’s only going to get me more of the same? I hate feeling like a literary hack, so perhaps it’s better that I get out of the writing game altogether.

Yes, that’s a piss-poor attitude but also a normal one. I’d wager that nearly every writer who has dreamed of seeing their books on shelves across the land has, at some point, journeyed through the gut-wrenching, soul-crushing experience of querying. And they’ve hated writing for it. And vowed to give it up and move on. And despair-deleted all their manuscripts. And then restored them from backups. And then got to work on their next manuscript. Because hey, if you can’t be resilient, be stubborn!

I’m lucky to have a resilient personality when it comes to most things. In moments when resiliency fails me, however, stubbornness kicks in. Part of that stems from the fact that I simply don’t accept myself as being a quitter. I might alter my methods, change my goals, or even sideline them for a time, but I’m too stubborn to give up my pursuits completely, including those of being a traditionally-published author.

TBH, if I still had to write books with this, I probably would quit.

The other part is that I refuse to let external forces—in this case, the publishing industry—affect the joy I find in creative writing. The plan for traditional publication has been intricately tied to my writing goals since I picked them back up in 2014, but it’s not the reason I started writing again. I’d be a fool to let an impersonal industry dictate the path of my personal journey.

So yes, I have recently flirted with the idea of quitting writing altogether. I have other creative hobbies to occupy my time, after all. None are as personally rewarding as writing about kid-killer forests and space-borne circuses, so I’ll continue this writing-editing-querying cycle for the time being. Or at least for a few more manuscripts.

Since I’m not a quitter, let’s circle back around on my metaphor. Obviously, stubbornness won’t work the same way here. I can’t power through my lack of physical resiliency by refusing to quit running—that could cause more damage—but I can give it a cautious second chance. I can alter my speed and distance and pick easier, flatter paths. Maybe I’ll be fine. Maybe I won’t. And in that case, I’ll use my resilience (and stubbornness!) to find other ways to achieve the benefits of running.

See you on the trails and shelves!

  5 comments for “If You Can’t Be Resilient, Be Stubborn!

  1. September 23, 2022 at 11:21 AM

    yesterday, I read the book “build for tomorrow”, Jason Feifer (chief red. of Entrepreneur mag), and I finally understood “what fuels me”… there’s an interesting exercise there, to see it more clearly. S

    Like

  2. September 23, 2022 at 11:31 AM

    Can’t see my comment. So I’m going to repeat it lol cuz something happened with my inet/page right now. Soooo, yesterday I read the book “Build for tomorrow” and I finally understood what fuels me… there’s an exercise in that book for that purpose. I mean I understood why I was writing. Or more important, why I want to write and why I like it 🙂 but unfortunately, I also understood who I am – I’m not a writer 🙂 and I got it only yesterday…😱 Well, it doesn’t mean I’m going to quit writing – we aren’t quitters! – 🤸🤸📚📚☕️ but I can shift my energy and still do what “fuels me” – creative work with writing, but maybe a different kind..
    Just wanted to share when I saw your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 23, 2022 at 12:03 PM

      Thank you! Great food for thought! I might have to check out that book, or at least, the exercise…lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      • September 23, 2022 at 12:11 PM

        Yes, written by Jason Feifer (chief red of Entrepreneur mag). It wasn’t what I expected… but very helpful anyway. I’m still reading it but I’ll post some insights next week. What “fuels” us is not what we “do”… all I can tell 😂😂 right now ;))

        Like

      • September 23, 2022 at 12:15 PM

        To be more clear: I write = this is what I “do” 🙂 but this is not what “fuels” me.

        I think I’d recommend the book to people who want to change something in their life, especially occupation/profession

        Liked by 1 person

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