Sigh. My agent emailed. She wants to talk about Hot Shot. Again. I don’t think I can go back to that book one more time. It’s as good as I can make it. If that’s not good enough, maybe I just need to step back.

For the millionth time in twelve years, I ask myself, Why am I doing this? So I went out back to water my plants and started playing the “If” game. You know the game; you’ve all played it.

If I quit writing, I would have time to sit out in my yard and read, just for pleasure, without feeling guilty about not writing. And maybe after awhile, I’ll stop diagnosing “just how she did that.”

If I quit writing, I could sell all those how-to books I bought but never read, and almost make up for the cost of the contests I’ve entered. Plus, I’d have more shelf space for the books I could buy to read for pleasure without feeling guilty.

If I quit writing, I could go on a real vacation, not have to plan it around National.

If I quit writing, I could stop running to the answering machine and the mailbox as soon as I get home, hoping for word from New York.

If I quit writing, I could stop spending so much time at the post office, stop spending so much money on ink and paper.

If I quit writing, I could paint the sunroom. And the bedroom.

If I quit writing, I could be a world-class teacher, could keep up my house better, could become a great cook. (Okay, let’s not go crazy here, Mary.)


If I quit writing, my husband would kill me after all the money I’d spent on books/conferences/contests.

If I quit writing, I won’t have an excuse to have a picture of Gerard Butler hanging by the computer.

If I quit writing, I’ll no longer have a place in the writers’ communities I’ve become a part of. That may be the hardest of all, to explain to them, to turn away from friendships forged in the flames.

If I quit writing, the persistence I want my son to emulate will be wasted. I’ll never be able to say I’m not a quitter again.

If I quit writing, I’ll never walk into Barnes and Noble and see my books on the shelf. I’ll never know if the next book might have resulted in The Call.

If I quit writing, I’d be giving up on a dream I’ve had since I was nine years old.

So, will I quit? I don’t know. Writing, and waiting, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and to think I’m doing it voluntarily almost makes me insane. How can something I’m so compelled to do bring me down?

So it may be time to take a step back, reevaluate. But I have a feeling that walking away will be harder than moving forward.

We had a badass hailstorm here last night, from out of nowhere!

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Paula said...
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Paula said...

Mary, I'm going to tell you what I told myself when I was in a similar position last year: if you can quit, do it. Go find something that makes you happier.

But I suspect you can't quit any more than I could. You've been at this too long and with too much success for it to be a whim.

HOT SHOT is just one book. It's not the only book you've ever written, and it's not your only chance to sell. It's just one book. Period. Your career's not over if you can't get your agent or an editor happy with it.

I think taking a break's a good idea. Get some perspective. Maybe it'll help you see ways to improve Hot Shot. Or maybe your talk with the agent will surprise you and give you just the idea you need to make it all it should be.

If you want, find new eyes for the book--a friend who hasn't read it at all. Completely fresh perspective. I'll do it if you don't have anyone else in mind.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do. I have a pretty good idea what it'll be. :)

Stacy Dawn said...

Maybe when you take the month to relax, you can re-evaluate and come back with a fresh perspective.

Anonymous said...


Trish Milburn said...

Mary, you mentioned taking the month of May off to recharge and do other things, and I think that's a good idea. Then come back June 1 rejuvenated and raring to write.

Gina Black said...

I don't think you can quit.

Sounds like it might be a nice time for a little break, though. And painting the sunroom sounds like a lovely thing to do in the spring. :)

Toni Anderson said...


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Mary, I can't really say anything anyone else hasn't already said. I've been there, but contemplating quitting gives me a lot more despair than the obstacles I still face do.

You'll be okay, whatever you decide.

KATZ said...

Aw, Mary, you made me tear up. (((hugs)))
Don't quit - I admire you so much for your perseverence. The month break sounds like a great idea to remember why you love it.

And, I'd try writing something fun, Mary. A totally new ms or short story - whatever fun idea you've had hanging around and thought "one of these days I should write that". There is nothing more fun to me than the beginning and brainstorming and flashes of inspiration for a new story!

(Oh, and going out for a margarita or two might not hurt!!) :)

Marianne Arkins said...


Hang in there -- I agree with "write for fun"... try to remember why you wrote in the first place.

Sometimes the stress of trying to get published can destroy your joy.

Regain it.

Good luck!

Stephanie said...


Like Trish, I too teared up, because you so closely expressed how I've been feeling lately. Amazingly, getting an agent has made me stress even more, and I've found myself thinking, "If I give up writing, I would have time to be a better wife/daughter/cook/hostess/person." Sometimes I seriously debate the merit of doing what I'm doing. Even if I get published, will it be worth the many, many hours I've missed out on with the people I love?

I guess what it boils down to is what Paula said: if you can walk away, then do it and don't look back. But if you've been writing for 12 years, I would be very surprised if you could do that; you're obviously hooked -- on the process, the people, the dream.

Do you know, once when I was thinking seriously about chucking the whole dang writing thang, my fiance said something very meaningful to me. He said, "I'd never want you to quit writing -- you've got something you're passionate about, and many people don't have that. I envy you."

I think that being a writer is definitely something in your DNA : ) But we have to be smart about it. If the thought of Hot Shot is making your stomach heave, maybe you're right: Maybe it's time to let it die. However, if you still have faith in it, don't give up. I echo Paula's offer -- I'm here if you want a fresh set of eyes.

We're here for you... and we know you're close to selling, so please, keep on chugging on with us!


Stephanie said...

Oops! I meant to say like Sarah I teared up...

Dana Pollard said...

This one got to me. I too have been questioning the word quit. What got me? This line:

If I quit writing, I’ll never walk into Barnes and Noble and see my books on the shelf. I’ll never know if the next book might have resulted in The Call.

I will NEVER give up now.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you definitely need some time off from Hot Shot. You may want to recharge your creativity. Do something you've always wanted to do. Give yourself permission NOT to write and see what happens.

I'm still fighting to find my balance. But I love what I do. And darn it, I WANT to see my book on a shelf and I'm not giving up.

Amie Stuart said...

I tried to quit this winter Mary and I cried buckets....just ask poor Raine!

Paula is IS just one book. Maybe it's not THE book. Maybe you need to set it aside and focusing on selling something else. You can always sell it sometime down the line.....

April said...

((Mary)). I would be surprised if everyone hasn't felt the way you do at some point. I sure have. And I agree with Paula. You can quit writing, but the question is if the complusion you feel to write will just go away.

Taking a break sounds like a great idea. Sounds like your well may be getting low.

Then reevalute and see how you feel!

MJFredrick said...

I didn't hear from my agent yesterday, so no change in my mood ;)

Paula, thanks. I think if I didn't have an agent, I would walk away right now, but now I'm committed. I guess I'd say it's like being engaged. But you're right, Hot Shot is one book. It's the book that my agent fell in love with, so that's why I feel stuck with working on it. If she wants revisions, though, it will be the third time I've done them for her. And thank you so much for offering to read it!

Thanks, Stacy, Bonnie, Trish, Toni and Gina! Next week I want to blog about what I can get done when I'm NOT writing (Kara Lennox blogged about finding time to write on Romancing the Blog). Hopefully I'll have something more to put than blog-hopping ;)

Natalie, I love what you said..."contemplating quitting gives me a lot more despair than the obstacles I still face do." If you look at that as the choices, you're right.

Sarah, thanks for the hugs. I'm afraid anything I try to write for fun I'll be compelled to make marketable, like it would be a waste, you know?

Thanks, Marianne. I never knew this would be SO stressful. I thought, once I finalled in the GH, once I got an agent...but no.

Bosey, thank you so much for the offer. My dh said something similar to me. He swears he's not going to let me give up, even though he gives up a lot so I can write. (yeah, no guilt THERE). And you are dead right - having an agent means you have to produce! Can you imagine what being published will be like? But then again, you'll be PUBLISHED, and that's some validation.

Happy to inspire you, Dana!!! ;)

So, Cece, you cried because you quit? Do tell!!

Thanks, Michelle and April. I'm definitely not picking up a pen or a notebook or opening a new file on the Alphasmart or computer - I'm going to read, read read!

Amie Stuart said...

caveat: I struggle with chronic depression and it's worse in winter--so it's also seasonal.
By January I'm usually ready to rip my hair out anyway!

But seriously 2005 was SUCH a bad year by mid-January 06 I was ready to quit and I cried because I felt like I'd failed, because I didn't WANT to fail, because I didn't want to give up but just didn't have the heart to keep on going, because I thought of all the time and energy and money I'd invested (which is NOWHERE near the 12 years you've put in). I even took down my website and stopped blogging.

I started reading, I started cleaning (gag), I watched TV, I slept a lot! And I whined and cried to my CP until I'm sure she was ready to fly down from Ohio and beat the dogsnot out of me. Lucky for me, she was feeling about as down as I was.

I was like a freakin' junkie trying to wean myself off my drug of choice--I even left a note on my CP's blog one day--we were chatting--about how it was all like being in an abusive relationship! No matter how I really, honestly, in my heart, tried to quit, something kept pulling me back...For whatever any of this is worth.

MJFredrick said...

Cece, yes, EXACTLY! I don't have the heart. It's just too hard. (I know, I know, if it was easy...) An abusive stay in for the highs that are few and far between. Too few, too far.

LOL on the dogsnot....what turned it around for you?

Amie Stuart said...

Even when I said I quit, I was still sending stuff out *blush* --I subbed two short stories (none of which I sold). Addicted much?

It was like I just couldn't break free, then on Valentines Day (I promise never to make fun of it again) I got a request from an editor at Berkly! She found my rights posting on Pub Marketplace (from November!), read the excerpt on my website and emailed me asking for the full.

It didn't get me writing again, but it did give me hope, a lot of hope! Enough hope to query Avon aka the reject-o-matic LOL (who requested a partial of BCC which I sat on for like a WEEK! Yeah, I didn't have a great attitude there...).

I swear ta God the day after I mailed it off to Avon, I got the email from Kensington.

Unfortunately the other editor left Berkly and I have no idea where she went, but she did send me a nice rejection and an invite to sub to an agent. By the time she rejected me, I'd sold BCC to K and found a new agent.

I know how you feel about Hot Shot--I have a book like that. I honestly thought it'd be the first book I sold (and it darned near was). I thought it was THE BOOK and I got real close, but it wasn't then I had to fire my first agent. It took me a year to get my sh*t together and it's STILL hard to write, (and it's hard to walk away from all the stuff I'm sitting on, but I figure eventually I'll sell it).

Go easy on yourself, take some downtime, talk to your agent and if you feel like you need to go in a different direction and set it aside for now, do it. I'm sure she'll understand!


PS Sorry for writing another book on your blog!

MJFredrick said...

Cece, I love hearing about this. So you were submitting and not writing. Good for you - I mean, heck, it was written! LOL on Avon being the Reject-O-Matic - no kidding!!!

I'm so glad it all turned around for you!


M.J. Fredrick's books on Goodreads
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Beneath the SurfaceBeneath the Surface
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Hot ShotHot Shot (Samhain)
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I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher and a writer. I have five cats and a dog to keep me company. I love bookstores and libraries and Netflix - movies are my greatest weakness.
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