Linda Nagata says it’s okay to quit writing


And I agree. A quote from her post[1] about it:

Quit if you need to. That’s my advice. And I can say that without hypocrisy, because I did it. I quit. Not utterly, and certainly not irrevocably, but I basically walked away from the game for ten years.

The reasons were the usual: money, time, and family. I had never made any reasonable amount of money from writing, so I was working full time, my kids were teens (not an easy time of life), my parents were elderly with issues of their own, my husband was working more than full time, and all those long years spent trying to create some sort of a writing career had begun to seem like a joke. Writing was making me miserable. So I quit. Given that I had only a few spare hours in any day, it was more important to me to spend those hours on my family than on writing. It was as simple as that. We all make choices. That was mine and I don’t regret it.

I walked away, too. I’d been struggling and failing for many years, and I had promised my wife I would go back to school and get an MA in something so I could get a real job when my agent offered to take me on. I returned my GRE study guide to the library and started revising Child of Fire.

There are sacrifices that have to be made, and sometimes the rewards are just not worth it.

Occasionally I’ll see someone online say “I’d KILL to write like you!” to an author, and that always seems weird. You’d kill someone? Steal years from someone else’s life? Because that seems like the easy way out.

Writing takes dedication. It takes hours from your week and years from your life. I’ve sacrifices all sorts of things for writing, from sleep to exercise to a high-paying career, and you know what I have to show for it? Books about a nearsighted faux hoplite who sings like Tom Waits, an ex-con armed with a magic piece of paper, and a genius gorilla in a fucking zoot suit.

Is that worth it? If I had skipped all that and gone to law school, could I have spent my years helping people who need it or earning enough to take my wife on trips? Should I have? Well, I haven’t stopped writing, that’s for sure. I’m still trying to get this right.

Is that the right choice for everyone? Of course not. There may come a time when I quit writing all together, if circumstances warrant it.

So don’t sweat it if you’re a writer who decides to stop writing, and don’t pressure people to keep going when they feel they need to stop.

[1] Like political Military SF? She has a new book out today.