So, here's a thing to know about me: I'm not a quitter.
This is good sometimes. I've got a college degree that required three passes at Calculus 1 to get (but I finally finished that useless, completely unhelpful goddamn requirement), I've got looots of martial arts experience despite numerous lacerations, severed tendons and broken bones over the years, I stuck out two years in the Peace Corps in Togo (admittedly, with a couple of getaways) and, oh yeah, I've written some things as well. I firmly believe that persistence is key to accomplishing a lot in life.
Sometimes, though, I screw myself over by not knowing when to quit. Like when I keep backpacking even though I've got that telltale pinch in my foot, and then walk until I'm bloody. Or when I keep participating in something that's no more than rote tediousness because, well, I haven't finished it yet (Girl Scouts, oh my god. I was much better at Explorer Scouts, where I could do more outdoorsy stuff). Or, when I'm writing something and I'm not feeling it, and I'm not liking it, and I'm not having any fun but I keep on going because, well, I determined that this was the thing to be working on right now. It's on my schedule. I highlighted that bad boy. It's time to Do This Thing even though I already know I'm not going to like the way it turns out. Or, if I finally throw in the towel, I do so with a great sense of personal failure, like, "Wow, you couldn't even meet this goal. You suck, babe. Say it with me: you SUCK."
Something I recently realized about myself thanks to a friend's observation: I tend to do better when I'm writing something with humor. It doesn't have to be a comedy, but there needs to be a certain lightness to it that I can latch onto and run with. It makes the writing more enjoyable for me and, judging by reception, it makes the reading more enjoyable for whoever picks the book up. I haven't yet mastered the art of angst, or the sort of heavy, serious reads that so many authors in the genres I enjoy excel at. I do it lighter. I need the banter, the buildup, the playtime. I just do. Or, at least right now I do, because my latest story has all sorts of potential and I'm just not feeling it because it's so fucking doom and gloom. With, y'know, a happy ending, but that isn't enough. The plot needs an overhaul. The characters need more consideration. And I just need to move on to something else.
Example: if any of you have read Tempest, there's a part in the middle where things are suddenly really Not Okay for our main characters. Everything before that I wrote in three weeks (the fastest I've ever written in my life). Once I got there? I had to put the book away. For almost a year. Yeah. And then I went back to it, and it was fine, and I think it turned out pretty well!
I'm trying to get a handle on the fact that it isn't quitting to set something aside, or even scrap it entirely. It's okay. This current story doesn't have a due date; it's a thing I want to try, but I'm not there right now. Maybe I will be in a month. Maybe a year. Maybe not at all. Letting it go for now is infinitely better than pile-driving my way through a story that I'm only going to be unhappy with, though. And I kind of hate that I have to, but I'm trying to learn to be a little nicer to myself, so: "Cari. You don't suck, and you're not a failure for shelving that project. Pick something else up and run with it. It's okay."
I don't quite feel that way yet, but it's a goal, and hey, I'm not a quitter.