Slow and steady?

For the last four or five days, I have been sick. Really sick. Barely able to breathe sick. The kind of sick where coughing can result in vomiting, passing out, or a mental state very, very close to doing a whippet. I’m quite sure I killed a few brain cells. No matter. They weren’t doing me much good anyway. What I want to share with you is an ongoing epiphany I had last night when I was awake and spinning off too much ephedrine. It is this: ‘don’t quit while you’re ahead’. Not very profound. Bear with me.

My initial ephedrine freak out was about money. And the lack of it in my bank account. I freak out about money all the time. Like most of you probably do. It is my default mode. I am the crumbwinner in my family. This used to be all well and good when I could teach and write and my writing didn’t have to pay the bills. I stopped teaching because my hearing went fizzle. Another story for another time. But last night, I tossed and turned trying to think of some way I could get a ‘regular’ job that didn’t require me to answer phones, talk to anyone, or in any other way use my ears.

Now, with the economy the way it is, this may all be a moot point, but there is a point nonetheless. It has been six months since I quit my full-time job and started a freelance writing business. My novels are making more money because I have time to promote them. Some weeks are good freelance-wise. Some are not. I am essentially losing money every day that I wake up. And, while I am not overly obsessed with having a LOT of money, it is handy to have some.


I know not everyone is in my shoes and many are still splitting their time, but I think it applies, no matter your situation (except for you rich people that write). All three of you. This is the question that keeps me going: would I be able to do it again? I think the answer is ‘no’. Not that I wouldn’t want to do it again, but I don’t think I would have it in me to bust my ass to the extent that I have for the last six months. I have reached a certain point on the mountain (where, I have no idea), and if I had to start again from the beginning, I don’t know if I could. Or would. I might just say screw it.

Momentum and inertia. The ball is rolling. Stopping the ball from rolling and trying to restart it at a later date seems like an absurd notion. These things take time.

Teaching for a decade (especially with the kids I worked with) made me REALLY good at pep talks. I try to keep the ‘pep’ out of my posts here, but this one is for me as much as it is for you.

There are always going to be times when giving up seems appealing. It requires no effort. It is the end game. But if you are doing something important to you, if you are seeing some kind of success…for heaven’s sake, keep going. I know it gets frustrating, but money is a skewed barometer – you can always lose everything in a second, straight job or not. Ask me how I know (three times). And that was the last thought I had as I fought my way into sleep at 3am. If money were removed from the picture completely, would you be happy with the way your writing is going? If you can answer yes, then I say keep going. As long as you can. Until you have called in every favor and taken all the help you can get. Until you have written until your eyes bleed and you can’t sleep because your brain can’t stop writing.

Life is long. Everyone fails and encounters hardships. Even Donald Trump (I could come up with a better example, I still don’t feel so good) was a joke (and not just for his hair…for his bank account) not so long ago. History is riddled with successes built on struggle or even failure. The sherpas may be willing to restart the climb, but I’m not. So, I will plod on. I will either fail miserably or I will make it work. I’ve never been very good at failing. I need to remind myself of that.

Cue Eminem: “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, Yo.”

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JD Mader is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novels JOE CAFÉ and THE BIKER – and co-author of the mighty Bad Book. For more information, please see the IU Bio page and his blog: (and musical nonsense here: JD Mader). Mader’s edgier works can be found at

Author: JD Mader

JD Mader is an award winning short story writer and novelist. 'Joe Café' and 'The Biker' are out now, as well as 'Please, no eyes'. and the collaborative 'Bad Book'. Mader has been writing for half his life and has no plans on stopping any time soon. Learn more about JD Mader at his blog and his Amazon author page.

41 thoughts on “Slow and steady?”

  1. Terrific post, Dan, and so accurate about keeping momentum. We've all of us just got to keep going. Thanks for this smashing little shove.

    And thanks for "crumbwinner" – best laugh I've had all day.


  2. Wow. If you can be that positive and determined while feeling like death warmed up, you clearly have what it takes to be a hugely successful writer. Hats off to you, mate! Wish I could send you a coupla bucks but I'm in much the same position. Gonna make it, but not …quite…yet. Meanwhile helping to publish other writers is paying some of the bills. I will NOT go back to teaching!

    I admire your strength and dedication to your work. Get well soon!

    1. Thank you Bev. I appreciate the comment. And no worries, we can park our yachts side by side and chat about all this in a few years. 😉

  3. I really should comment with my own website link, not my distribution site. (This link is right.) And how does one add a photo so it shows up beside comments? Haven't fathomed that one yet.

  4. We all need morale-boosting on this bumpy road we share, JD.

    Somehow you always find a new way to provide that in your posts, even when you're down. This time, you've really outdone yourself, digging deep and hitting the core.

    I quit my highly productive career so long ago, there is no turning back. I would do it again even had I known we were tottering on the brink of a publishing revolution in synch with the longest recession in U.S. history.

    I believe you're correct in assuming that we're all thinking about money. Global news is all about money and war (the high cost of war.) According to PBS statistics, my net worth is 40% less than it was in 2006 along with every other U.S. citizen (other than a few select individuals.)

    Kudos, Salud, Mazeltov, Blessings!

    1. Thanks Marcia, I really appreciate it. Soon, we will all be hobos riding the rails again and things will come full circle.

  5. I don't make money from writing but years ago I made a conscious decision to work in the non-profit/community sector, where I could do the work I love (HR) for organizations making a difference in people's lives.

    Spoken right to my heart and to my empty wallet.

    Dorie was right. Just keep swimming.

    1. Yep. Thanks Jo…you too. And no one supports other writers like you do. When I have some money, you're getting a big ass trophy.

  6. Let me preface this by saying: I am NOT rich nor famous. What I am is fortunate and you can be too. Why? I'm proof that you can always earn some semblance of a living writing and publishing, and kids, I've been at it for 35 years. Sometimes I write literature and I've done my share of work for hire pseudonym schlock to pay the bills.

    I've gone to the other side of the desk and been an acquisitions editor, a developmental editor

    packager, editor-at-large, author mentor, freelance editor, ghostwriter and whoa back to author–fiction and non fiction. Now I run an indie company, But for anybody with a molar's worth of talent there is always SOMETHING writing related you can do. Those skills are nothing to sneeze at–so stop 🙂 If you're willing to work, the work's always there. And doing it can only make you a better writer in the end.

    1. I agree with you completely. People who can write tend to forget that there are many, many people who HATE writing.

      PS – One of my molars is GOLD!

      1. Hell Yeah!

        And sorry if I seemed harsh, but Goddammit, you either DO it because you LOVE this work, or it's just to make you rich and F and the BOOK is just a tool to market ONESELF.

        Handholding a talented newbie who really CARES, makes me almost as happy as writing one myself.

        But if they think writing is just another get-rich-quick, American Idol gig–

        They got another think coming.

        But don't sell yourself short, dude, honestly…

        The work is there

        Just Do it…

        Sending virtual orange juice

  7. Most excellent post. My fav line is "Stopping the ball from rolling and trying to restart it at a later date seems like an absurd notion." So true.

    I've got to keep this posted where I can see it all the time, especially when I feel my energy fading. Thanks, JD 🙂

    1. Thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment, and there will be a time when I, too, will need this pep talk again. We all will.

  8. Thank you for the pep talk. I have managed to pick up a few 'gigs' on the back of my writing which help keep the fridge from being empty.(Talks at creative writing classes)

    I am lucky though because as poor as I am, I am doing something I love and have the moral support of my husband who doesn't ask me to take up regular employment or take up lap dancing so we can have more income.

    I shall keep going and going…one day who knows what opportunity may arise…in the meantime the fact I put a smile on people's faces is reward enough. (Sorry, that last bit sounded a bit gushing.)

    Hope you feel better soon.

  9. Sharing a quote that fits this thread.

    If you're going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill

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