So far, this year has been a lesson in perseverance. For the last month or so, I was having a hard time completing a story in a genre I’m not entirely comfortable writing in and the reason I haven’t kept anyone up to date about this is simple: Too many people have mistakenly tried to “help” by suggesting that I give up.
“You’re working so hard on that,” they say in a tone that should sound impressed, but is critical and demeaning, even if it’s not intentional. “You’re obviously not going anywhere with it, so maybe you should stop.”
So once again it seems that I am learning the hard way that I can’t truly rely on anyone else if I want to accomplish something. What makes this most frustrating is that there are going to be times when I absolutely need someone to meet me halfway. I can’t think of a single person in life who would have gotten to where they are today if someone didn’t get past their own egos, or their need for a paycheck, to stoop down low and help them.
Then there’s the other extreme. It’s the person who thinks they are being helpful by constantly applying pressure. Constantly telling you, “I want you to accomplish this” as if you suddenly woke up one morning and you didn’t want this for yourself. There’s probably a reason why you haven’t made any progress. Maybe your job or your kids took precedent. But this person thinks that by constantly twisting your arm and repeating their mantra, “I wish you would focus on that goal” that you will finally achieve what it is you set out to do and that somehow, you will thank them.
There was one character in this post that I did not mention. That was the supportive Husband of Ms. Peacock, who uttered the line, “That’s why sometimes in the acknowledgments section the author says, ‘thank you for kicking my ass the whole time'”.
At the time, I realized that he was only saying it to support his overzealous wife. But it was a statement that still irritated me, because while Ms. Peacock was trying so desperately to “save me” from a life of stagnation, he was probably inadvertently positively re-enforcing her behavior. That means that no matter what I say or do from here on out, Ms. Peacock is going to smugly sit there and believe that she deserves credit for “pushing” me to finish writing this novella that I was already working on before she presumed to enter my house and open her fat gob.
Why am I bringing up the past again, you ask? Because recently I had a similar argument with someone over the progress I was making in my writing. It’s amazing how nothing has changed. I am still working hard, but part of that working hard is trying to make the story a quality piece of writing and not just 20,000 words of crap. I’m so sorry if I don’t subscribe to the policy of “just write it down and worry about the editing later” because that’s just not how I work.
“But I want you to be published.” He said.
“So do I,” I said. “But if I want to be published, I can’t just write crap. I need to impress the publisher, or I’m not going to impress the reader.”
“But I see all those novels in the supermarket,” he continued. “And James Patterson writes all those books.”
At this point, he wasn’t even comparing apples to oranges. He was comparing cherry pits to fully grown watermelons. Again, I think the idea here was that if he kept pushing me, it would somehow spur me to put aside my “meaningless” blog and focus on writing something that could wind up being just as meaningless in the end.
But the fact that I am continuing to work on this piece and have done so with nothing but my own motivation as the driving force, makes his actions superfluous. I even pointed out to him that unless he’s offering to pay me a huge advance to finish my story, that there is no rush for me to finish it and that if he really loves me and believes in my writing, that he needs to stop hounding me and let nature take it’s course.
People, please, keep this in mind when you think you are offering words of encouragement to your loved ones. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just shut up and let them get the thing done in their own pace. You’re not going to be thanked for the pressure you apply. You’re going to be resented. Is that really going to be worth the effort you put in?