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June Question: Did you every say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

Wow, I’ve just been thinking about this! Last year around this time I had a bit of a meltdown. Perhaps that was the start of this whole burnout nonsense? Anyhow, after getting five rejections (different projects) on the same day, I just broke down and cried and cried and… It wasn’t pretty. I’d received various rejections that week. Emotionally, I was in a very bad place.

I decided right then and there I was quitting this bloody business called writing, getting a real job (that pays in more than avocados) and being a real grown-up like all of my non-writing friends. They all seem so happy with their nine to five jobs, weekends spend braaiing and everything else that would utterly suffocate me…

The only snag was that all of my tertiary education is in writing. All of it. And I was completely done with this horrible business that causes carpal tunnel, sore eyes, blinding headaches and cramps in my back. No, I needed to go back to school. I was going to become a computer engineer. No, a graphic designer. No, a sales director for a huge company. No, I was going to become a hairdresser (me with a sharp object like scissors? Run, people, run!). No, I knew what I’m meant for: I was going to become Grand Empress of Africa once I’ve conquered the continent.

I was worse than a six-year-old deciding on what to do next.

My lack of direction didn’t deter me. I finally figured out that the reason all of my education lies in writing is because I’m actually good at it.

All the career choices that lay before me that appealed to me had writing at its core.

Copywriter. Copy-editor. Structural editor. Proof-reader. Journalist (whether hard-core like Lois Lane or a how-to like Andie Anderson didn’t really matter).

I remembered that apart from writing, being a veterinarian was the only other job I’d ever wanted. But looking at the state of our universities (in South Africa) these days, I should’ve done that when I was way younger and a lot more gullible.

I’d made the decision to be a writer, not a veterinarian, quite a while back.

Despite people jumping from career to career these days, it’s still the only thing I want to do. Despite the rejections, despite the health risks, despite the fact that I’m probably the weirdest person at any party (sharing details about serial killers and how they might all be aligned with the Dark Court probably doesn’t make that better) and despite the fact that I might’ve starved if it weren’t for my supportive – very supportive – parents, I still want to be a writer.

It took me two weeks to remember who I am, who I’m supposed to be, and who I’m going to be.

Crazy – by Gnarls Barkley

I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space

And when you’re out there
Without care,
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn’t because I didn’t know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
probably

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that’s my only advice

Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are,
Ha ha ha bless your soul
You really think you’re in control

Well, I think you’re crazy
I think you’re crazy
I think you’re crazy
Just like me

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb
And all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it’s no coincidence I’ve come
And I can die when I’m done

Maybe I’m crazy
Maybe you’re crazy
Maybe we’re crazy
Probably

Uh, uh

Sometimes only being in a very dark place can remind you of your goals and dreams, of who you are and who you’re supposed to be.

Anyhow, after my little pity party, my competitive nature took hold and I enrolled in yet another writing course (perfecting my grammar couldn’t hurt), I churned out more short stories for competitions and for my online platforms, I found out more about various social media networks to grow my following (one reason for rejection was actually my lack of an extensive social media following – and here I thought stories were about the writing…), I became a judge for Cracked Flash Fiction Competition, I won a writing award – who said I couldn’t be the best writer in a community of Afrikaans writers? – and I took a lot more chances than ever before.

Every month I try to learn something new about writing/social media and share it on my blog. I’ve recently even claimed my blog on Bloglovin’ to extend my blog’s reach.

In the last couple of months I’ve done a lot more than I thought possible – though I still think I could’ve done more if I didn’t have to take March off because of that silly little thing called burnout. Does that mean I have Type A Personality? *shrugs*

Publishing wise, in the last five months I’ve done three guest posts and two of my short stories have been published in an anthology. I like the symmetry of that…

Your Novel’s Genre Matters

 

Zombies: Through Folklore, Film and Fiction

The Art of Writing Explained

“Hoop op Oukersaand” & “Saphira en die Toorlied”

Maybe falling into that dark place was a good thing. It was definitely a good thing that my YA trilogy got rejected – I’m currently rewriting it to be even more amazing than before. Which is probably what one should learn from rejection: the story isn’t ready yet. And perhaps the editor who turned my submission down because of my tiny social media following had a point: I wasn’t ready to be published yet. I have a much better understanding now of social media and author branding than I had a year ago.

I could have given up. There’s no shame in giving up: it just means that it’s not for you. But I couldn’t.

So, now that I’ve given you nightmares, tell me: are you devoted to the art of writing? Are you a slave to the whims of the Muse? Have you ever given up writing – how long did that last?

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