When is it time to give up?

I might be suffering from mental exhaustion. Or maybe it’s emotional exhaustion. With so much family on top of me 24/7, it’s not surprising. But today something clicked, and it wasn’t a good click either. I took a much-needed break from everyone and went to my local bookstore. While walking aimlessly  around, the sheer massiveness of the packed shelves overwhelmed me. And then there was all the paraphernalia, and the merchandise for the many millions of stories that they’re selling.

Get your Twilight-themed bookmarks. Get your Harry Potter pen. Get your very own plush Wild Thing.

I got depressed.

I was suddenly faced with the reality  of my own writing life. I am freelancing, working two different paying projects at the same time while my novel languishes on my desk beneath piles of random stuff: receipts from Target and The Cloisters gift shop, a lone pink glove that my daughter found under her bed, a bent screw, a nearly-empty travel pack of baby wipes, the phone, a library book (THE DANGEROUS WORLD OF BUTTERFLIES by Peter Laufer), a handkerchief (yes, I realize I’m the only person left in North America who still uses handkerchiefs), my notebook, the last six stamps from a sheet of twenty.

So this afternoon I tried to make up time by typing out the edits I had marked up weeks ago. After about twenty pages I got tired and needed a nap. Bad. Bad. Bad. Now I’m trying to get back to it, but I’m wondering if there’s any point. This book has failed to impress anyone besides me, my best friend, and my  agent. I have now sent out “final” manuscripts on three different occasions. Granted the first one was way premature. I was post-partum at the time and not in the best mental shape. Despite that, I keep revising and although every time I have completed a revision I think it’s so much better, so far that still hasn’t cut it. When is it time to stop and say: maybe this is all I have; Maybe I’m just a one-book author; Maybe I don’t have the talent for this kind of work.

I don’t know. It’s disappointing to think that I might simply not have it in me. It’s disappointing to admit defeat. But I’m going to keep plodding on because I finish what I start. And then we’ll see. I know for certain that if this story turns out to be a dud–again–I’m going to seriously consider hanging up my creative hat.