In our culture, being a quitter isn’t generally seen as a good thing. We value determination, drive, commitment, and the willingness to carry a task through all the way to the end. And rightly so. Determination and commitment and all the rest are admirable qualities to have– and they’re essential to us as writers. I’ve always felt that one of the deadly sins of the unpublished writer (ie the sins that will stop her from ever getting published) is to be a serial book-starter. To start writing story after story, only to abandon the work in favor of some bright, shiny new idea when the going gets hard.
I still feel that way. In my experience, every book hits a rough patch, a time when it would be easier to just shove the whole mess into a drawer and switch to something new. But it’s kind of like parenting, in that you’re in it for the long haul. You don’t trade in your kids just because they will not for the love of pete put their dirty socks in the laundry hamper (and my kids aren’t even teenagers yet). You don’t give up on your book because the characters are stubbornly sitting with their arms folded, refusing to participate in the story you have laid out. Or worse, raising their eyebrows at you and sarcastically asking, Really? That’s your idea of a plot?
Determination is what carries you through those patches, and leads you to the miraculous moment when your book finally works, when your fingers can’t fly over the keys fast enough.
Except when it doesn’t.