I really, really, hate leaving things unfinished. It constantly nags at me that I have a novel sitting in a (virtual) drawer that I started to rewrite and then gave up on. I’m glad I did, or I never would have gotten around to writing Lies, and maybe I’ll go back to again someday but, in this case, giving up was probably the right choice for me.
A couple days ago I started reading a book I instantly disliked. It was non-fiction, and the topic was really interesting, but the writer nagged at me and I just knew I was going to spend the whole book disliking them. It was a book I’d been given for review, so it was a little more complicated– I really felt like I should keep reading it. But around 13% in, I gave up. I emailed the publisher to say I wasn’t going to be able to review it, and they were completely understanding. Deep down, I knew they would be. But it was still incredibly hard for me to put that book away. It’s still in my closest, and a real part of me is tempted to give it another try.
There’s been quite a few books, too many, that I kept reading even when I disliked them. I ended up trying to find some positive when I wrote my reviews, but even when a book had some redeeming factors, that doesn’t mean it was for me. And there are so many fantastic books out there that are. After I put down the book I didn’t like, I picked up Orchards by Holly Thompson, a young adult novel in verse that takes place in Japan about the after-effects of bullying and the complicated nature of home. I fell in love. I devoured it. It was most definitely a better use of my time than the book I would have had to force myself to finish. But it was still so hard to do.
So that’s what I’ve been thinking about at the moment– how I need to give myself permission to give up. If a story’s not working, maybe it’s time to put it away for a bit. The same thing applies to a novel. There are so many books out there that I would fall in love with, and I have so little time to read them all. It is absolutely not worth my time to keep reading the ones I don’t enjoy. If I want to know how something ends, I give myself permission to flip to the end or read a spoilery review. I don’t need to keep reading, I don’t need to keep writing– something out there will be a better match instead.
Now, I just need to remember this next time I feel that inner perfectionist need to finish things.
How do you feel about giving up? Have you given up on anything lately, and are you glad did?