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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Hill

The Beauty of Giving Up: The Sad Truth About Writing

Hello Reader! My instinct here is to follow up with a self-deprecating joke that goes something along the lines of, “Thanks for being one of the nine people that consume my work!” But I fucking hate that.

I hate that:

  1. It has been done before in my other works as well as the works of other people across all forms of media. So it’s not even remotely interesting nor unique to say anymore.

  2. It completely disparages the time, effort, and care put into writing in less than three seconds.

  3. Most of all, as a fan of several writers and artists, I hate being on the recipient end of that joke. When a fellow creator makes light of their fan base to the point of saying it’s borderline non-existent, I want to jump through whatever mode of media they are conveying their work through and shake them with a, “I’m here! And you don’t even know me! We’ve never met! I found you online and I love your creations! I bet if I left you an email of appreciation you’d be too busy to respond or it would get lost in the ether of other messages, and in my book--and my teenage self’s book--that’s making it. So shut up about not having fans past your immediate friends and family, because you definitely don’t know me and based on how unhinged I sound right now, you probably wouldn’t want to. Best, Olivia”.

That’s how I end my emails, “Best, Olivia.” I have no real knowledge of whether that’s actually professional or just extremely obnoxious and telling of how young I may or may not be. Insert joke of me secretly being a much older woman who can’t work technology and is just trapped in Benjamin Button-like genes. I’m starting to hate that joke too. I’m sure there is an underrepresented group of elders who could show me tricks on my iPhone that I know nothing about, and who could do so with so much grace and kindness. And don’t even get me--a woman who is getting older--started on the systematic issue of a woman’s value dwindling as she does just that: gets older. So I’ll attempt to do my due diligence and alleviate this impossible pressure to "stay young" by putting to rest the hack jokes that encourages unattainable youth in order to keep value.

Have I lost my male readers yet?

It just seems too easy to make this comment, and I'd like to push myself more creatively--AKA I want to make things more difficult for myself like some sort of artistic martyr even though I only have about nine followers--dammit there I go again.

The point of this “Li’l Check-In Post” has a number of reasons behind it, which I will also list out. Enjoy:

  1. I paid a lump sum of money for this website upfront to add more pressure on myself to pump out more writing more consistently; not unlike when you buy an expensive gym pass thinking that will be the motivation you need to get over your fears of naively picking up dumbbells next to ‘roided-out specimens. While I have been working on other projects this summer, (cue a montage of Tik Toks and wrapping up a web series Alyssa Poteet and I worked on for the past few years titled “Dog Moms”) it really makes the cortisol levels in my body rise to see that the last time I posted on this blog was May of 2021.

  2. I want to share an important lesson I learned through The Beauty of Giving Up (patent pending).

  3. I’m priming you for my own Bird by Bird*-type of book, appropriately titled, Cone by Cone.**

Madonna in concert property of CNN
Property of CNN

*A humorous book by Anne Lamott about writing

**This is a reference to ice cream cones, although knowing me and my style of high brow words tied to low-ball double entendres I’m sure the cover image will make reference to my tits by suiting me up in “Madonna Cones.”

Okay, let’s expand on #2 for the real meat of this piece: The Beauty of Giving Up.

Call it an OCD tendency, call it being stubborn, call it a form of procrastination, but if I start a piece, I need to end that piece before another piece can be finished. Many written pieces of mine have been started and "in the works" at once, but I would force myself to finish them in the order in which they were conceived. I don’t know why I do this and figuring out why is low on the priority list of personal woes I take to my therapist.

Earlier this year, I had conceived the idea for a short story titled, Come Here, out of a heart-suffocating experience that occurred in February. The plot points of this fictional piece were so clear in my head, and yet it took me another few weeks that turned into a few months to get it to a “vomit draft" (which translates to "an ugly first draft"). I chipped away at the Uggo Draft throughout the summer, feeling excited about the narrative and feeling hopeful about the shared experience that could be felt by readers once it was finished. I finally got to a draft that I felt strongly about and sent it to two trustworthy friends who give the best notes. The feedback was extremely helpful, but it also exposed how many holes there were in the characters, the logic, and the basic story. These holes were so distracting that the only thing this piece would evoke from readers a sense of, “wait. What the fuck is going on here?”

Prior to getting to this “almost-final-draft-ready-for-a-first-round-of-friends’-notes” draft, I had actually experienced a lot of anxiety around what it would look like to finally share this story with the online public. I wasn’t scared of the “trolls” (once again, the beauty of having only nine readers is you don’t have tro--Olivia shut the fuck up with this joke, honestly). I was scared that mutual "friends" could send my work to who they believed it to be about. This catastrophic thinking couldn’t get my neuroses over the possibility that my work could be simply copy and pasted like a screenshot of salacious TMZ headline. So I had the bright idea to put it behind a paywall; there’s no way someone would pay to be petty, right? But then I feared the potential feeling of rejection that could be induced if even the most loyal of followers avoided shelling out money for my work. At the time, my ego was too fragile to have my self worth hinge on that--thank God for the Youtube meditations that have since brought me peace today. Then, I had the next bright idea to write the piece by hand and scan it back onto a computer to create a “cool and unique reading experience” that would in theory be harder to copy and paste through the electric grapevine. However, to get to that point we’d need a final draft--which I still didn’t have.

After receiving my friends' notes, I tried to re-work the piece while battling all my anxieties that making the story more clear would also get me in more hot water. Then one day I unlocked my computer screen and the simplest answer dawned on me: Just give up!

There was no way I could comfortably turn this upsetting moment into a story, even if the final read so clearly as completely fantastical fictional piece (it had supernatural elements in it) because I was still too close to it. Not only was I in the woods with this piece, but more severely: my face was smooshed up against a tree while my brain convinced myself the world had always just looked like bark and sap.

So I decided to “give up.” I mean, the draft still exists on Google Drive (Hackers, I’m making this so easy for you) and one day I'll come back to work on it. When I do, I assume it'll look like this:

I’ll be out of said proverbial woods and in a field of tall, dry grass with a small child who will point to the dark, scary, looming gnarl of trees in the distance and tug at my dress to ask, “What’s that?”

And I will pick said child up into my arms and say “Mommy used to have a drinking problem lol.”

And they’ll say, “Moooooom, don’t say lol out loud like that, you sound so old!”

And I’ll say “Wow, even in this futuristic scenario where I’m living on a Westworld prairie we’re still judging the validity of a woman by her age?”

Anyways. The point is: Give Up! It feels good, and it frees you up to write more interesting things like this in the meantime.


Special Thanks to: Hannah Ahn & Kaleena Madruga

If this was inspiring or interesting, please leave a comment or tap that adorable little heart below! If you’d like to read more pieces of writing about writing check out: Who Inspires Your Writing?

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