Sad, Walking-Away Music

I have never quit being a writer, but I have stopped writing now and then.

Bill Bixby in The Incredible Hulk

At the end of every episode of The Incredible Hulk, Dr. Banner walked away. Sad. So very sad. © 1978 Universal Television

Back in the ’70s, there was a live-action television series based on the Marvel comic book The Incredible Hulk. For those who might be too young to remember, it featured Bill Bixby as Dr. David Banner. (Yeah, it was “David.” Not Bruce. Don’t get me started.)

Every week Dr. Banner would come to a new town where he tried to help out or find a cure for his problem. Then something — usually the bad guys causing the problem he was trying to resolve — would make him angry. Of course, Dr. Banner would Hulk-out and smash some things. After the bad guys were brought to justice or the family farm was saved, he would gather up his backpack and head off into the metaphorical sunset.

Cue the sad, walking-away music.

All this is preamble to explain why at certain times in my life I stopped writing. I never thought of it as quitting, really. I was just walking away — on my way to somewhere new. Trying to find the next chapter of my story.

In 1997, I actually quit my job in tech support to finish writing a novel. I wrote it, shopped it around, but never found an agent for it. (In hindsight, it wasn’t very good.) And when my savings ran out and my consulting work couldn’t pay the bills, I put writing on the back burner while I found a job and started working full time.

Around 2000, I started writing poetry and discovered I was pretty good at it. But when my parents both passed away from cancer over 18 short months, I stopped writing poetry because it was all rather maudlin. I needed to put some distance between me and these life-changing events.

I was still writing movie reviews, though. And in 2005, I made a business of it. But I eventually realized everyone was writing movie reviews on the Internet, and I had nothing new to offer.

In 2010, I came back to short story and novel writing. I rediscovered my love of the craft. All those stories I had put aside for so many years came back to me with a full head of steam. Even though I had walked away from writing, my writing had never really left me.

If you’re a writer, it’s okay to set aside your writing and try something new. Maybe you need to explore another art form or take care of your family. Maybe you want to learn something new. That’s okay.

Go ahead and walk away. Cue the sad music. It doesn’t mean the end of your writing. It’s just the end of this chapter. When you’re ready, a new story will be waiting for you.

Kevin Wohler is a copywriter and novelist living in Lawrence, Kansas. During the day, he works at a digital marketing agency in the Kansas City area. When time remains, he likes to tell stories of the weird and bizarre. And sometimes, he writes them down for others to read.

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