Monday, October 27, 2008

I am not a quitter

Just as Marty McFly could predictably be incited by accusations that he was a chicken, the voice in my head that whispers "quitter" brings out my stubborn streak. I quit smoking in 2004 and I'm proud of that. I quit drinking Diet Coke in 2006 and I'm proud of that. I tried to quit delivering my youngest mid-way through the process, but the OB/GYN insisted I finish. My 23-year marriage is as much a product of stubbornness as a testament of steadfast love (probably more so). I am not a quitter.

In 1983 I dropped out of UT. Then went back in '84. Later in '84 I dropped out again and ended up traveling with Ringling Brothers (& Barnum & Bailey). Quitting that gig was harder than dropping out of school. In '89 I went back to UT and finished my degree in Mechanical Engineering. I've had 2 employers in the last 20 years. I quit my last job only because "down-sizing" was inevitable and I was a Mechanical/Electrical Engineer in a chemical company (limited opportunities). My survival instincts overrode my "I am not a quitter" instincts.

Why am I boring you with my life history today? Cryptonomicon. My Dad loaned me this 1130 page paperback with an endearing note of recommendation. I took the book with me to China in March. I never got past page 3. I picked it up again a few weeks ago and have been grinding through it. I've tracked progress as "percent complete". I decided to wait until I was at least 10% complete before passing judgment. By then I seemed to be on a roll so I kept reading. I am now on page 148 (13%) and I am at my limit. I am not a book critic, but I'll capture a bit of the brick wall....

The scene is WWII London. A cryptographer is describing the nature of the British. "There is no in between with these people.... None of them have cars but when they do they are three-ton hand-built beasts. The concept of stamping out a whole lot of cars is unthinkable - there are certain procedures that have to be followed, Mr. Ford, such as the hand-brazing of radiators, the traditional whittling of the tyres from solid blocks of cahoutchouc."

I have a stack of other books to read. My MIL loaned me the entire Left Behind series (about 4 years ago) and I really want to start plowing through those. I've been left behind by Harry Potter (I think I have 2 left to read). And I've promised our youngest I'll read Twilight before the movie comes out in December. So, why do I feel guilty about putting down a book that hurts my teeth leaves me so motivated to try my hand a novel-writing?

One lesson I take from Crypto is that this book was a New York Times bestseller. Out of fairness to the author, Crypto is not in my preferred genre. When I read my favorite authors I tend to feel intimidated. "I can never write this well." This book has inspired challenged me. "I can do better." Can I? Will I? What will be the impetus?

1 comment:

dallasdiva said...

No pressure but Twilight comes on November 21st . . .