Friday, August 12, 2011

When You Think You Might Quit...

Don't. (I think this might be the first blog post I've ever written that didn't start with the word "dude" "okay" or "so." Check it.) ((Also, warning, later in this post, there are some possibly disturbing pictures. Don't say I didn't warn you.))

Don't quit.

Things might get hard. Writing is hard. Revising is hard. Querying is hard. Marketing and publicity is hard. I'm sure that, intellectually, you know this. But do you know it?

Today, I'm going to share a story. A story of a kid. He was in my husband's sixth grade class last year, and he's suffered from seizures his whole life, being born with epilepsy. He's had countless surgeries, beginning when he was just tiny.

This past spring, he went in for some more treatment. Specifically, the doctors went into his brain and put grids on it.

Grids.

On his brain.

They then reduced his seizure medication, so that he'd have more seizures. They wanted to find the places where the seizures were originating. Then they cut out those parts of his brain that showed the most activity. It was at this point that my husband and I went to the hospital to visit the boy and his mom.

And let me tell you, that if you're thinking about quitting this whole writing thing--or anything really--think again.

Look at this:


And this:


And then look at your manuscript, and don't quit. If this kid can endure having his entire skull sliced open, you can surely get back into your manuscript and put a grid on it. Find out where the weaknesses are and cut them out. Sure, it might hurt, but do you ever think you'll have to endure anything like this kid? (I'm seriously hoping I don't.)

I'm dieting right now, and it's hard. I'll be starting school again next week, and that will be hard. Surely you have something in your life that makes you go, "Ugh. This is hard."

You know what? It probably is. But hard things are worth doing.

So yeah. Motivational message of the day: You can do hard things. Don't quit.

Have you survived something hard?

66 comments:

Melissa Lemon said...

Thanks for supplying my early morning pep talk. You are awesome!

Alyssia said...

I soooo needed this Elana. Thank you!

Laura Marcella said...

Wow, that's really amazing. What an awesome kid! Wishing him the very best from life. :)

Exactly what we need to hear a week before WriteOnCon!!!

Jessica Bell said...

Wow. Poor little guy. That must have been terrifying for him! :o( Reassuring to see he has a ton of emotional support.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing this. It's something to remember on those days we contemplate quitting. Hope the surgery helped him.

bel said...

Wow! Thanks for this.

Cathy said...

Wow, way to motivate the troops, Elana. I'm always telling my daughter she can do hard things, I guess it's time to suck it up and tell myself the same thing.

E. Arroyo said...

Wow. Very humbling.

Faith E. Hough said...

I'm tempted to start the comment in your usual term: Dude. That's incredible. Thanks for the inspiration.

Tina said...

Thanks :)

Angela Felsted said...

Um, wow! That looks painful. So glad I don't have seizures or need to have my brain cut open.

Chris Phillips said...

Great story. I recently had a former student battle cancer, and it gives me similar motivation. Should have started with a "Dudes, okay so" though.

Jemi Fraser said...

Wow. Kids amaze me with their strength, endurance, love of life, joy & power. I'm betting this little guy has it all.

I've taught several kids who have battled medical conditions. They really are inspirational and pure magic.

Matthew MacNish said...

Wow. Powerful stuff, and a point well made. Thanks, Elana!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Powerful stuff, indeed, Elana. Really puts everything into perspective. I'm so tweeting this.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Yep, and in comparison, surviving this writing thing (as painful and heartbreaking as it can be) is nuthin'. Thanks for reminding me of that, Elana. =o)

Lydia K said...

I have. And it's true, writing is not as hard as a life crisis. Thanks for the reminder, Elana.

Isis Rushdan said...

What a brave kid!

After boot camp in the US Army, I realized I could accomplish anything, even if my body wasn't quite up to the task. The power of the mind is incredible. If you truly want something, you can't give up, no matter what.

Christi Goddard said...

Poor little guy. I hope this all helps and his life gets exponentially better.

I went through a major surgery and four month recovery in the middle of my search for representation. It really put the whole thing in perspective for me. There's just no rush to it. I used to be impatient about it, now I just roll with it and keep writing.

Anna Staniszewski said...

Wowza. We really don't have any excuses, do we? I think it's the hard things that make us strong enough to keep going.

storyqueen said...

Yes. We can do hard things.

Meredith said...

I needed that perspective change today. I volunteer with cancer kids every week, and it really is amazing how resilient the human spirit is. Giving up just doesn't seem like an option after I spend time with them.

Angela Brown said...

Thanks for sharing Elana. That kid is showing some serious strength. Amazing how miniscule some things in life can become when put it into this perspective.

Oddly, I did a post on never giving up - minus the kid, of course.

http://publishness.blogspot.com/2011/08/never-give-up.html

A good writer bud of mine read an article about the author of The Help and it inspired her to post about not giving up:

http://sherrynparker.blogspot.com/2011/08/never-give-up-never-say-die_11.html

By the way, for anyone interested, here's the link to that article:

http://shine.yahoo.com/event/poweryourfuture/kathryn-stocketts-the-help-turned-down-60-times-before-becoming-a-best-seller-2523496

Carrie said...

What an amazing and brave kid.
Thank you for this post.

I'm putting a grid on draft 4 right now. What keeps me going is knowing how far I've come in the process. I can't quit now.

Paul Greci said...

Great post, Elana!! I started my teaching job yesterday, and it is hard!

But that boy and the grids...that's amazing--he's brave!!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

What an amazing post, Elana. It is hard, but you have to keep going.
What an amazing and brave kid. Thank you for sharing. :)

Laura Pauling said...

My heart goes out to that boy! I hope the surgeries took care of the problems or helped a little bit!

Jessica R. Patch said...

Incredible.

I can't begin to imagine. I'll remember this when I'm whining about revisions.

Marsha Sigman said...

Yeah, actually right now. Life is pretty complicated and a little overwhelming but those pics make me feel like a total whiner.

Hope he's doing well. I'm going to suck it up and get back to work.

Cynthia Lee said...

If writing was easy then it wouldn't be rewarding. Only the hard stuff feels rewarding in the end.

I hope that little boy will be okay. Bless his heart.

Nichole Giles said...

Sing it, sister! Funny, because I wrote about something similar on my blog today. Minus the sad pictures. Must be the full moon or something.

Thanks for the reminder. I have officially passed your rejection record and am still climbing.

I. Will. Not. Quit.

Kelley said...

The hard things are always the most rewarding :)

Jenny said...

Wow, thanks for this post. I needed it. It's easy to loose perspective. I can tell that this boy is a fighter, and I pray that this procedure worked!

Ishta Mercurio said...

That kid is amazing. Thanks for reminding us that the hard things are worth doing, and that we can get through the hard part.

Krispy said...

Thanks for the pep talk, and that kid is amazing!

Nicole L Rivera said...

Amen!!! Two years and three months of this and I've finally signed my first agent deal this morning :) Thank you for all your inspiration and uplifting posts. :)

Jessie Humphries said...

Amazing kid! Thanks for the perspective.

Shannon said...

I needed this today. To quote you back to you - these words are like oxygen. Thanks, Elana.

Angie said...

Poor kid! That is inspirational. Thanks for the motivation today, Elana.

Kristin Rae said...

Talk about perspective! I'm dieting too... why is it so hard?! But wow, we can do it. We really CAN.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Wow, poor kid! I'm going to pray for him.

After reading his story, no, I don't think I've survived anything hard.

Lacie Myers said...

Several children very close to me deal with difficult, chronic medical conditions. Thanks for helping me see the the connection between their bravery and hard work and my own need for such qualities.

Jeff King said...

Compared to that...no, I feel like a tool for thinking my life is hard.
You never fail to inspire me, thx for all you do!

Martha Ramirez said...

Wow awesome post! What an amazing kid. It's a greta reminder. Thank you.

Re ur question:
Have you survived something hard?

I think the most difficult thing I had to endure is losing my mom at a young age. I was 13 when my mom died and I suddenly had to grow up fast.

L.A Speedwing said...

Oh my! You're right! What was complaining about again? It is nothing! No-thing! Thank you! Brave kid.

DEMETRA BRODSKY said...

This brought me to tears. You are so right.

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

Brenda Charles said...

what an amazing post. Thank you for sharing his story with us. It justs sucks all the whine right out of you.

Adam Meyers said...

I recently moved to New York City. I always wanted to write, but I was fitting it in around so many other things I wanted to do that I just wasn't getting it done.

I'm now moving back to Provo, and I'm rededicating myself to writing with as much time I can muster. Because I don't want to quit nor set it aside for later.

Kathy S. Fox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mshatch said...

oh, great post Elana, great post. And I for one am not quitting. Mr Bouchard (my 11th grade? English teacher) told me to keep writing and I'm guessing he said that for a reason. So I'm gonna keep on writing.

Kathy S. Fox said...

Thank you for sharing, I to have a son who was born with epilepsy and had surgery at twenty. We all need to consider, also, that there are serious risks associated with brain surgery, including death. We're certainly not risking our lives when we send out queries and submissions. The worst they can do is say no, but then we can always try again, and again, and again. Happy writing everyone!

Christine Fonseca said...

Hugs and thank you. I know you wrote that for me.

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Poor kid. Hopefully they'll be able to fix whatever's causing that. Great post -- thanks for sharing this.

Nicole M. White- said...

Can't see the keyboard for tears in my eyes. Thank you!

Chelsey said...

My mantra is pretty much if I can survive the medical stuff I can survive this.

On the other hand, having all the medical stuff going on makes me more determined to do something well, to succeed and that probably causes 80% of my writing stress....

Michael Di Gesu said...

That poor courageous kid. God bless him and his parents.

As for not giving up... you bet. I had a horrible bout of crippling arthritis in my legs. I was bed ridden for a year and all my muscles atrophied. It took me well over five years to build up the strength again in my legs.

Thankfully this experience only left me with a five degree bend in my right leg and I can't sit back on my legs, but the alternative was a wheelchair and I would have NO part of that.

I hear you on the weight thing Elana. I put on fifty pounds in two winters while I wrote my two novels. Last march I took my life back and decided to get back into shape again. FIve months later, I am happy to say that I lost 55 pounds and I feel amazing. Thirteen more and I will be the weight I was when I modeled. So there.

I never give up on anything or anyone if I can help it, and becoming published is my next battle I will win.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Okay, so I was totally avoiding this post because I am not thinking about quitting and I figured it didn't pertain to me. But, the reality is that I needed your words, Elana. I NEEDED them. And so here I am.

At first, reading this, I kind of teared up, but then I was nodding my head and saying, "rock on". So rock on, Elana. And rock on dude with the kickass scars on his head. That kid better be ready for fan mail from a lot of thankful authors!

Nisa said...

Hard things are definitely the things most worth doing! Wow! It sure makes dieting look a little easier... I better get going.

Leslie Rose said...

Wow. Amazing stuff that kid is going through. It raises bravery to a whole new level.

As I suffer "push pin thumb" from getting my classroom ready for a new flock of minions, your post resonates with a much needed message. Thanks.

Abby said...

Go give that boy a big hug, kiss and a candy bar. Yes, he deserves more than that... WAY more. But what an amazing example to all of us. Thank you for sharing this with us. If he can endure all that he has endured we can certainly endure the trials that come with writing.

I love how you say to "cut out the weak parts". Even if it hurts. :)

L.T. Elliot said...

I truly hope you'll keep us updated on this little guy. What an amazing kid! I'll pray my guts out for him.

Thanks for the uplifting message. Just hearing it is so good for so many people. Don't ever underestimate how profoundly you affect people, E. You're wonderful.

The Tame Lion said...

Wow! Thanks for this!
Insightful! Motivational!

Laura said...

Thanks Elana,
I have something HARD I have to do for work, and it's been like an icy knot in my stomach all day - but frankly after seeing those pics, I know which this poor kid would chose to do if he had the chance, so now, I'm just going to go and get on with it!
Good motivational post - think I'll have to bookmark it for when I start whining again in the future
Laura x

Kerri Cuev said...

Umm, will totally stop complaining now. What a brave boy!

Liza said...

Deep breath. Message delivered.

Stacy Henrie said...

Loved this post, Elana! Very inspiring.

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