When a Writer Quits . . .

Novelist Nancy Peacock on quitting…

“I’m writing again,” I told Ben.

“I thought so,” he said.

Ben has the good sense to never say, “I told you so,” no matter how many times we go through this. And we’ve gone through it a lot, because I am a serial quitter. Like an alcoholic, I need to put this statement in the present tense. I don’t think I’m cured. I could quit again when the going gets tough. I know I’ll feel the urge. 

But quitting exacts a price, not just on my writing but also on my soul. When I can’t give my soul what it needs through writing, I go off in search of some other bright ball of yarn. And what I need to learn is that I don’t have to be so extreme. When my soul yearns for the tactile, it’s okay to weave. In fact it’s a good thing for a writer to be nonverbal for a while. It’s a big lesson for me to learn that being a writer shouldn’t mean that I’m chained to my desk twenty-four-seven.

Another big lesson is to finally understand that once I am a published writer I will always be a published writer, but that I will also always be an unpublished writer. I will get rejection slips, no matter what the New York Times said about my first novel. And hopefully I will always have material in need of some work, because if I don’t have the pages I hate I will never have the pages I love.


Nancy Peacock, A Broom of One’s Own: Words on Writing, Housecleaning and Life
Harper Perennial (2008)
ISBN: 987-0-06-135787-9

Other books by Nancy Peacock

Life Without Water

Home Across the Road

Dirt: The Quirks, Habits and Passions of Keeping House

The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson

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