Monday, October 15, 2012

Cry Uncle

By Evelyn David

It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.
~ Albert Einstein
Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul.
~ Douglas MacArthur

Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.
~ James A. Michener

A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.
~ Richard Bach

If you're going through hell, keep going.
~ Winston Churchill

If you're looking for a quote that says it's okay to quit – you won't find one. I know. I was searching for somebody smart or famous, maybe not Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian, but any minor celebrity would do, that would justify our decision to abandon a book that we'd been writing.

We'd been working on this story off-and-on – mostly off – for the better part of three years. Anything, including a thumb wrestling tournament on cable TV, was enough to divert our attention. We kept talking through scenarios and occasionally even writing a couple of scenes.

Then last week I finally came to a long overdue conclusion. It happened after I'd finished the first draft of a scene that included a heartfelt speech by one of our favorite characters. I mean it was the kind of declaration that would make lesser men stand up and cheer – except it had absolutely no business in the book and made little or no sense.


It was time to cry Uncle (or Aunt, Nephew, or Cousin). Basically it was time to hold up the white flag of surrender and say this book is going nowhere – fast.

Was it too ambitious? Too complicated? Were we trying too hard? Probably no to the first question; definitely yes to the second and third. We're capable of writing grand stories with deep themes, even if we often choose to eschew great pronouncements of metaphysical meaning (if I even know what that means). I don't remember who said it, but somebody (not Paris, Kim, or even Honey Boo-Boo), once said, "Not only do I not want to write the Great American Novel; I don't want to read it."

Anyway, the two halves of Evelyn David had a brief memorial service for a story that was dead on arrival. We killed it. No wanted posters for the murderer are necessary. Nor even a moment of silence. Frankly, it was a relief.

Being me, I felt a little guilt. Like I owed it to the story to try and make it work. But maybe I'm getting older, maybe a little smarter, maybe listening to the Southern half who doesn't have much patience with guilt trips helps. But I realized that by pulling the plug on a story that wasn't ever going to work, it freed us to write one that did.

Which is exactly what we've been doing.

So I guess we're not quitters after all. How about you? Have you ever quit a project?

Evelyn David

Sullivan Investigations Mystery
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Trade Paperback (exclusive to Amazon)
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle (exclusive to Amazon this month)
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords


  1. I hear Kenny Rogers singing in the background.
    "You gotta know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em..."

    Oh, maybe that was the quote you were looking for.

  2. I used to finish every book I started; however, I decided life was too short to spend time reading (or doing) books(things) I didn't enjoy. so now, if I'm not enjoying myself, I QUIT, without guilt.

  3. Thanks LD Masterson and Pam Hopkins.

    Love the Kenny Rogers song -- perfect for this blog.

    And me too, Pam, I don't finish books I don't enjoy. I'm just working on getting rid of the guilt :-)

    Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David

  4. Evelyn, it's hard, that's for sure. I'm not sure I've "quit"...but they've been pushed so far to the side they've fallen off the earth never to be seen again. The difference is, you're moving on with a clear head now. The ones I"ve shoved to the side (with good reason, I suspect) still mess with my head.

    Love the quotes, too!

  5. Marian, I haven't really quit books, stories, poems, but if they're not working for me (if I've really worked at them and they're still no-go), I set them aside and move onto something else. Sometimes I can come back to a piece I had laid aside many years ago and find that it suddenly works for me. Perhaps I've found the missing piece to it, or maybe I'm just in a better place to write it. I'm a big stick-to-it, don't-give-up type of person. But sometimes letting something go fallow for a while is just what it needs to become fertile again.

  6. Thanks Laura and Linda. You're right that some parts of the story we "quit" have elements that can be used somewhere else. I always say that my favorite scene in our first mystery, MURDER OFF THE BOOKS, was cut and somehow, someway, it's going to show up some place :-)


  7. Sometimes, it's just all right to stop, and find something else. As you've said, you never know when it will show up again in another form.