Now, obviously I didn't give up writing at all, or I wouldn't have a book out there for all of you wonderful fans to be enjoying. But I did give it up for a little while, about 8 years in fact.
See, I was a very susceptible teen. I trusted those who were older, wiser, more experienced than me. Now that I look back, I want to shake myself and say, "Just because they have a high degree/teaching experience/have submitted works to a publisher," does NOT mean that they know what they are talking about.
I can actually peg it back to two teachers who killed a small part of my soul in high school.
The first was an English teacher. Any time we were given writing assignments to, "free write a story," I would go the fantasy world. It was what I enjoyed doing, even back then. And every single time she would give me an incomplete, and tell me that I needed to re-write the story because "fantasy is not real writing". I was told that I needed to get my head out of the clouds, that I needed to get serious about my writing, that I needed to grow up.
So I stopped writing fantasy. Even worse, I stopped writing completely.
The only good part of that is that it turned me towards poetry, because, for some reason, she loved my poetry. In fact, she loved it so much that she took one of my poems and, unknown to me at the time, it won a state poetry competition. Ironically enough, even though she hated the fantasy stories that I would spend hours and days writing, she loved my poem, which was about a girl who could form fire in her hands, which I scribbled in the 5 minutes before class because I forgot the assignment was due that day. *shrug*
The second teacher was an art teacher. In a similar theme, he hated my fantasy stuff, most of which was quite good (if I say so myself). Once again I heard to "stop dreaming" "get your head out of the clouds" "get serious about your drawing" "stop wasting time on scribbles". If a drawing/painting wasn't anatomically correct or realistic enough, he would point that out to me, by drawing in red Sharpie where something was supposed to go (in his world, not mine).
So I stopped drawing fantasy, I stopped drawing completely.
College was actually a really hard time for me as well. I went to JMU where there is an incredible writing and art department, and most of my roommates/friends were artists/writers. My artwork could never stack up to theirs, which further made me just stop doing it. It was never good enough, realistic enough, professional enough. I no longer enjoyed it because I was always focused on the end result.
But now, I do both. I write the book that I want to write, because I know that somewhere out there, is a reader who will want to read it. There are still a lot of people out there who refuse to acknowledge my writing because I "did not face thousands of rejections before signing with a big publisher", but I no longer care. My fans like my book, and I love my book, and if you aren't willing to even read it before judging, there is nothing I can do about it.
My daughter gets me drawing now too. She doesn't care that my flowers aren't in proportion, or perfectly shaded, or casting a correct shadow. She can identify when I draw a ball, apple, orange, horse, cat and dog (which is pretty dang impressive giving my drawing abilities and her not being two yet). I'm having fun with it again, and negativity be damned.
NEVER stop doing what you like to do, ever. If you want to draw, write, dance, etc. it does not matter if you aren't at a professional level, or going to win an award, or meeting the standards of some person who thinks they are important. You do it because you like to do it, because it gives you joy. Never stop. Never let their negativity get you down.