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: www.jdmader.com (and musical nonsense here: JD Mader). Mader’s edgier works can be found at www.blergpop.com.