Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Joy of Quitting

By David Nemeth

Americans don't quit enough, a writer may have told me. It might have been, "Americans don't like quitting," I am unsure of the exact quote since bourbon was involved. This all came right after they mentioned they had trunked a book they'd been writing for three years. Yeah, I know this is not that surprising in the writing world, but I was still taken back given this writer's incredible work.

Crime fiction is filled with perseverance stories: the owner of a yarn store who doggedly solves murders in her sleepy seaside town or that plucky housewife who'll solve a childhood murder of one of her friends on the twentieth anniversary of the crime. Whether it's Hieronymous Bosch or Nancy Drew, it is drilled into us that only quitters quit.

But when you're stuck in a situation you can't stand, you come to realize this Horatio Alger perseverance ideal is bullshit and when you learn that Alger was a child molester that puts a bow on it. Screw it, quit.

Don't fear the quitting. Whether you give up on writing a book or working on a relationship, quitting frees you to do other things, things you may enjoy. You can come up with dozen of reasons on why you can't quit, but in the end, these are lame-ass excuses. Learn to quit.  How many of us can't even quit a TV series they are binging? We watch it through to the flaccid end. Yeah, I'm looking at you "Dexter".

In many ways, I am worse when reading books regarding this "not quitting" thing; the compulsion to finish is overwhelming even among the stench of clich├ęs, imbecile plot devices, and, honestly, bad-fucking writing. We've learned to tolerate crap as the alphabet police shows and the war-porn that spills onto our movie theatre screens every summer help keep us in a perpetual state of numbness while keeping Comcast and Disney's pockets stuffed with cash.

Put down that badly-written book your reading, turn off that TV show that tells you when to laugh, and, for God's sake, listen to Martin Scorsese.


Anonymous said...

But if you love something or someone: NEVER. GIVE. UP.

Audrey Shaffer said...

I give a book 1/3. If I'm not connected in that amount of pages, I quit without a qualm. There are too many books in the world to waste precious reading time on something that doesn't engage me.