How Do You Know When It’s Time To Quit?

It’s a genuine question. I really don’t know.

I have been close to quitting a lot lately. It’s probably a weekly thing at the moment. I don’t mean writing, by the way, I could never quit writing.

I’m referring to the process of editing and rewriting and revising a book again and again and again in the faint hope of a publisher accepting it, versus making the decision to quit editing, rewriting and self-publish it. I am also referring to my writing company, Chasing Driftwood, which I constantly think about quitting. I am torn all the time. Do I give up on all these childish dreams and get myself a proper job? I am increasingly tempted.

Failure is a horrible thing. We all face it at various times in life, and it’s never, ever nice. We actively work to avoid it. Sometimes that means we never even try in the first place because we are scared of failing. We are scared of that feeling and don’t want to see ourselves as failures.

I think I can safely say that I have at least tried. Very, very hard. And a big part of me wants to keep trying. Despite the mixed feedback from two rounds of beta readers, I still love Elliot Pie and I feel like I have worked on it and worked on it, and made it a much, much better book that it was over two years ago when I started it. I’ve listened to feedback and I’ve acted on it. I submitted to a list of small press publishers and had three of them fairly interested in it, which is pretty positive really. I’ve never had that response to any of the other books I’ve put out. I keep reminding myself of this whenever I feel down. They may still be rejections, but they are positive rejections, which all say positive things about Elliot Pie. I have confidence that at the very least, my synopsis, my concept and my first few chapters are enough to entice people in!

Good stuff. But that leads me on to the reasons it was still rejected. Too long. I did go through it again and deleted another character, but I honestly could not see where else to cut. I know, I know, hire an editor you say. But I can’t afford that right now. Not in the slightest. Another reason for rejection was more specific. They loved the concept and my writing and absolutely adored Elliot, all of which is fantastic news. But they would have preferred the book to be written from the POV of Elliot and his mum. Just to explain, the book is mostly from Elliot’s POV, but also from his mum’s and the three strangers he makes friends with.

Now I can’t stop thinking about this suggestion. It would mean yet another entire and potentially very tricky rewrite. Losing the POV of three characters would also get the word count down…

But I just don’t know. I personally like the other characters POV being there because it means the reader gets to know or assume stuff about them which Elliot does not. His mother never meets these people. Do you see how tricky it could be to rewrite? I would have to write Elliot into scenes he was never meant to be in, or find other ways to suggest elements of their characters to the reader, through Elliot’s perceptions and reactions.

A lot of work. And I have two more finished but unpublished books to tidy up and start doing something with! Plus The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series which I am working on…

Life is short, right? The way I see it right now, I have two options with this book and with my writing company. I keep trying, keep battling, keep working until I get it right, whatever ‘right’ is, or I learn to know when to quit.

These are two separate issues really. I know I won’t quit my company yet. I just desperately need more time to make it all work and I know I will get that in September when my youngest starts school. I have decided to give it my all that year, give it everything I’ve got, and if I can’t do it, admit defeat at the end of that year and get a proper job, knowing at least I tried.

With Elliot Pie…I just can’t decide whether to keep rewriting in the hope of getting a publisher for it…or admit it’s the best I can do, it’s the book I wanted it to be, self-publish and hope for the best.

Funnily enough, when searching for images to post with this, I came across the quote ‘when you feel like quitting, think about why you started’ and it’s now changed the way I am looking at this. I’ve been thinking about what the story I originally wanted to tell and I’ve been thinking about the reason I started my writing company…

But it’s tricky, isn’ it? How do you know when to quit? How do you know when you’ve done the best and you’ve nothing left to give?

Answers on a postcard please! Or alternatively, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts! Have you ever felt like quitting a project? Was there a point when you just realised you’d done the best you could, and it was time to stop?

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16 thoughts on “How Do You Know When It’s Time To Quit?

  1. Hey, sorry to hear all this, but it sounds a lot like where I was a few months ago (and I don’t even have anything published!). You should be super proud of what you’ve achieved, whatever you decide. Personally, I’d give the slimmed-down version of Elliott Pie one more go – but I always prefer shorter books!

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      1. I didn’t want to say, but I’ve basically packed it in – for the time being at least. Can’t afford to self-publish, wasn’t getting anywhere with subs – maybe if it was as easy as Autharium I’d just stick my completed books out there, but it would just be for closure rather than attempting to start anything. Which is why I’m so impressed with what you’ve achieved!

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      2. Oh, that’s a shame James! Will you still write for pleasure and to get the stories out? It is a tough road, without a doubt. I feel like quitting all the time. Money is a major object definitely! I think those with spare cash reserves can make a much better go of it, with hiring editors and proof readers and top cover designers and then paying for BookBub promotions and things like that! I do know where you are coming from. I feel like I want to convince you to change your mind though!!

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      3. I might still try to get a few of the stories out, but then it’s a matter of time, and if there’s no ultimate goal then it’s hard to justify – as I’m sure you know! And I may well have told most of the stories I wanted to, which may be why my momentum ran out a bit (half-way through the last one!). I’m not giving up completely, I’m just stepping back from chasing an impossible dream to concentrate on more practical things.

        But I don’t want you to quit either! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I tend to agree that there are too many POV characters fromthe sound of it. Or at least that if there are two main ones and then some minor ones it might be too complicated for today’s reader. Have you looked through small press and agent listings on duotrope.com?Try that and don’t give up.

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  3. Thank you, Catherine! No, I haven’t heard of duotrope but I will check it out thank you! As for the book, I am currently changing my mind on a daily basis as to whether to leave it or mess with it again!

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  4. Hi Chantelle. No, no, no! You mustn’t give up! Just a thought: as you’ve been told your story’s too long, have you considered turning it into a screenplay? Waste nothing! Sure it’ll work out in the end though I know that’s no comfort right now. Big hugs. Txxx

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    1. Hi Trish, thank you! I won’t give up. It’s just deciding if I want to take advice on this book or not. I’ve had so many conflicting opinions on it, so it’s got to where I don’t even know how I feel about it! Hopefully time will help… Thank you!

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  5. Great, honest post, Chantelle. I’ve been where you are, stuck on the version of a draft I was happy with and proud of, and struggling to decide if I should make changes suggested by someone who didn’t have the emotional attachment that I did. I can totally understand you not wanting to change Elliot Pie because you love what you’ve done with it. I was the same, but I tried the changes suggested to me, and in the end, they did actually make the book stronger. Sometimes we do need an outsider to give us that different perspective. As someone who has also spent the last three years being rejected by agents and publishers, I think if you’re getting positive feedback, you should seriously consider it. Only once have I ever been given anything other than a generic, form rejection, and it was all constructive criticism. If you have numerous publishers giving you even just a whiff of interest, what can it hurt to do what you can to keep that interest? If having a book traditionally published is what you want (and what you deserve because you’re a brilliant writer), then I say go for it.

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    1. Thank you for such kind words! I am thinking about it constantly and still can’t decide what to do, so I’m doing nothing. I think if I leave it alone for a while then maybe the answer will click in my head. I’m so busy with other writing projects, that the thought of rewriting Elliot Pie is daunting, but I will do it if I decide it’s the right thing to do. Thanks and good luck with all of yours!

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  6. Chantelle you don’t strike me as a quitter and I don’t think this should even be a consideration. Yes I’m biased, but I think your writing is great and I’m very excited to hear there’s going to be more from ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’. My WIP gives me doubts sometimes especially my main character because she’s very different and I think possibly too unbelievable. I think all writers doubt themselves but look at what you’ve achieved wow!

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  7. When do you need to decide by? I find it best to let a decision like this percolate for a while in the background while I do something else. Then, when I come back to it fresh, the answer is clearer for me to see. But don’t give up writing, whichever way you go!

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