Friday Speak Out!: Letting Go

Friday, May 29, 2015
by Susanne Brent

I had the slogan NO QUITTING pinned to the bulletin board near my desk. Each time I was tempted to give up on my novel, I would glance at the bulletin board and tell myself I was not a quitter. I could never abandoned the characters I created and that I’d grown to know and love, Genevieve and Darcy and all the others I birthed in my yet-unfinished manuscript. I must continue. I didn’t want to feel like a failure, to have wasted all those hours at the keyboard for nothing. How would I tell well-meaning friends who regularly asked about my novel that I, gasp, quit?

Letting go whether it be a job, a relationship or a story I’ve written, is a struggle for me. When it comes to objects, no problem. I donate clothes and other things to my local Humane Society thrift shop with ease. I’ll never be on a hoarder reality show. Yet, when it comes to people, I avoid saying goodbye. My loyalty may look commendable, but often it is fear holding me back from saying adios to that worn out friendship or stale job.

The same with my novel which I’ve labored on for more than seven years, hours spent writing and editing as well as priceless help revising from writer friends. I wrote 75,000 words, and find myself wanting to call it quits.

I revised the first chapters so many times that I am confused about my original intention. I committed the mistake writing instructors warned me against. I revised the beginning chapters before I finished the entire manuscript. For some writers revising while writing is fine, but not me. I should have just plowed through the entire story.

Ah well, it’s too late now to lament how I fouled up my writing process. I tell myself it wasn’t wasted time. I was writing and not dusting or cleaning the fridge I was practicing.

Last week while in Costa Rica I discovered not just the rainforest and monkeys, but a new idea for a novel I want to write. Those are the key words. I want to write. I don’t want to write my old novel anymore. There I said it. I confess. Now what?

I feel guilty. A quitter. I feel like a married woman with a new lover, obligated to my novel but wanting to start afresh. I worry, too, that I am untrustworthy and fickle. I’m able to discard a novel I’ve loved for the promise of the new.

To help myself let go, I tell myself I can revisit my novel someday. I grew as a writer even if the novel was never published. I apologized to my characters. I have to move on. There’s a new story calling me. I’m learning the four letter word quit doesn’t mean I’m a failure. Not when I am replacing it with another four letter word. True. I must be true to myself. And my writing.

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Susanne Brent is a freelance writer who worked for several years as a newspaper reporter. She has had her news articles, short stories and essays published in various publications including Cup of Comfort for Christmas and Matter of Choice -- Twenty Five People who Transformed their Lives. Her blog is


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Anonymous said...


Don't think of yourself as quitting. If you were stuck with a mate who did not thrill you/make you happy, would you stay with them forever so you wouldn't be deemed a quitter?

I imagine not. At least I hope not.

Consider it a trial separation. Or, you can divorce it... you can always start dating it again later. You could also keep it around as a "friend with privileges"... occasionally you could dally with it.

We have to have passion in our lives. It sounds your new project excites you. Dive in... and enjoy yourself.

Anonymous said...

I tell myself the same thing about my "old" novels--that the time will come when I can return to them. I hope it's true, but for right now I've found new WIP love, too.

Kay Rae Chomic said...

Good for you, Susanne! Go with the exciting stuff. You can always go back to the first novel, and who knows, maybe you'll pull a favorite character out of it for your new novel. Cross-pollinate!
Have fun,

Susanne Brent said...

Thank you for your suggestions and comments. Helpful as I move forward.

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