The Unsuccessful Quitter

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It seems the loudest naysayer in our lives many times is ourselves. My own self-insults were never louder than when I decided to write a novel for publication. For some 20 years (yes, 2-0 YEARS!), I’ve worked on a series of young adult fantasy novels, struggling to believe this dream would come true. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I couldn’t accept I was good at something. Maybe because the stakes were so high. The bar was set so high. I had missed my chance. All the above. Every day, I wanted to quit writing, quit my dream of publishing novels. Somehow, the next day I was back at it, plotting, writing, editing. As it turns out, I suck at quitting. It never quite sticks. 

And I am forever grateful that I am. 

A little backstory first. 

I’m embarrassed to say, Star Wars probably had as much to do with my writing career as God. I didn’t just love Star Wars; I would have married it and had its babies if I could have. I tried my hand at writing a full-length novel set in the Star Wars universe. Close friends read it, and said my story was fantastic, but I needed to write something original if I wanted to be published. Darn them if they weren’t right. 

I began to work on a completely fantasy original story. What magical powers did I like the most and how do they work? What’s the society like? The land? Who are the characters? How do they relate to one another? Lo and behold! —Trine Rising, the first installment of my Kinderra Saga, was born. 

During the flight home from a business trip for an IT job I had taken, the writing restlessness of my heart grew unbearable. “I’ve got a career,” I told myself. “Normal people don’t become writers.” 

What are you so afraid of? … 

I’m afraid I’ll fail. 

Do you honestly think I’d give you this talent and lead you on this path only to fail? … 

The words struck me cold. I began to cry, there, on that airplane, somewhere over Kansas. For the first time, I believed that becoming a writer was possible. 

That was the easy part. 

A recession in the early 2000s handed me my first opportunity to write professionally. That computer job dissolved. Talk about knowing when to quit. Okay, Quitter Girl, what now? 

I was in my 30s when I took a position as an intern at a business newspaper. (Laugh if you must.) I had never worked at a paper in my life. It made no sense, then again, nothing on this path did. Soon, I was hired as a reporter and started earning journalism awards. All the while, I worked on Trine Rising. Revision after revision after revision. After. Revision. 

Real life took precedence. Beloved pets died. My beloved reporter’s job died. My beloved parents died. The beloved freaking economy died. So, what did I do? Yup. I quit that path and built a small business as a freelance writer. I put Trine Rising away and didn’t touch it again — for seven years. 

Fast-forward to 2016 and through several more rounds of quitting and slogging forward. In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t learn You Know Who’s lessons as the small, soft voice. I need a cast-iron frypan up the side of head.  

Would I have put you on this path to fail?… 

Crap. That again. 

Next up: editors, early readers, more editors, then dreaded queries to agents. Followed by rejections and more quitting. I hit rock bottom. I made the only choice left open to me: quit looking for a traditional publishing contract and pursue self-publishing. Then a who-could-have-guessed-it, “Holy Plague, Batman!” happened—a global pandemic of a novel coronavirus. Okay, God. Enough with the frypans, furcryinoutloud. 

I then realized the pandemic had forced everyone to stay home and read. Wait. What? “Holy Marketing Opportunity, Batman! Everyone’s reading! 

I will celebrate the launch of Trine Rising with Changing Hands Bookstore and the Zoom app for an incredible virtual event. And a martini (three olives, extra cold, extra dirty, thank you). 

Now, Trine Rising, the little book that couldn’t, is out and being enjoyed by readers and receiving rave reviews. I owe all my success to divine frypans and quitting. You can become a success, too. 

Just quit. 

Article written by C.K. Donnelly, journalist, and author of TRINE RISING. Her VIRTUAL ticketed book launch is August 26 at 6pm hosted by Changing Hands Bookstore in conversation with Leah LeMoine, Managing Editor of Phoenix Magazine. To register and for more information visit https://www.changinghands.com. Follow C.K. Donnelly on Facebook Instagram and Twitter.

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