Recently, a conversation at dinner with relatives about this problem of mine bothered me so much that I -- guess what? -- got up and left the table.
Don't get me wrong -- if I have a responsibility, I follow through. You can count on me to do what I say I will. That's a fact.
However, give me a task that no one is waiting with bated breath for me to finish and I...well...I usually won't finish it. When the going gets tough, I get going. For example:
Getting my permit to drive a boat on Lake Leman: I took one boating class listing all the ways one was to hang a flag to communicate with other boaters and knew I wouldn't continue. It was too much like learning a new language.
Learning Swiss German (Bernese dialect): Listened to three tracks on the cd and figured I'd forget it. This was learning a new language. I'd had a hard enough time with French, but Swiss German was a tongue twister.
Driving stick shift: 10 lessons with a driving teacher that could make Satan seem lovable. I actually broke into tears every time I reached an intersection. Thank God for automatic.
Making macarons: I got a fancy macaron kit and a ton of brightly colored food dye. So far, I haven't even gotten as far as whipping up egg whites. I mean, yes, it looks good, but it also looks like work.
Playing any and all Super Mario games: Hit with X. Jump with A. Spin with Y. Boost your power with B. Uh, no. I prefer the letters of the alphabet to spell something. Ciao, Mario.
Learning Jass: Have you ever played this Swiss card game? No? Then don't judge. Yes? Then you should know why I quit.
Using a pressure cooker: Let me just say it took days to clean the kitchen. Never again.
So why not add writing to that list?
Today while I was suffering in front of the computer, trying in vain to write, it occurred to me I could just quit. I could just forget writing completely. I mean, it's what I usually do when things get difficult. I wrote two books this year that have yet to see a publishing contract. Writing the third has been nothing but slow and steady torture. It's not like the world is waiting for me to pen something else.
So why haven't I quit? It might make my life easier. Hell, it might even make my life better....
Writing is hard and I ask myself every day why I do it. And every day I decide to continue even though I don't exactly know the answer. There are times when writing is fun and fulfilling. But most often, I find writing an awful, difficult ordeal because I want to do it well. I don't know if I write because it heals a gaping wound in my gut or if it's the act of writing that's created an ulcer. Do I write because when I see the word count stacking up, I finally feel worthy or I finally know it'll be finished? Or do I do it because when I don't write, I don't like who I am? But when I don't like who I am, I often don't want to write.
I'm not sure what the real reason is. But maybe it doesn't matter. Whatever the reason I write, it is vital to my being.
I'm a chronic quitter. I've given up on sewing, dancing, accounting, biking, running, tutoring and (luckily for all of you) singing. But I never intend to give up on writing.
Just don't ask me why.