The Year I Quit Writing

By J. R. Turner

I’ve quit a lot of things in my life. I quit smoking, my job at a potato warehouse, buying yarn without a pattern. And I quit writing in January of 2010.

I’m a multi-published author with six novels in print, one in eBook, and a host of awards under my belt. My family is proud and supportive. I have no day job to worry about and my children have grown to be mostly independent. So why would I give it all up?

My father was dying (he passed on February 14th) and I longed for more time with him. I drew my children closer to me and threw my energy into being a great homemaker, mom, and wife. To me, nothing seemed more important than spending time with them.

I didn’t tell anyone I had quit writing. I simply stopped. For a while, no one noticed. Eventually it came up and I told them. They supported my decision, but they weren’t happy. My eldest said, “But you can’t quit going after your dream, Mom.”

Unexpectedly, my mom had a massive heart attack on June 24th. If I had any doubts that I needed to be with family, they vanished in the face of her death. My parents divorced when I was three and they lived more than a thousand miles apart, so her passing in the same year was mere coincidence. We didn’t even know she was ill.

So there I am, all tied up in their estates, juggling life and travel, without any sort of plan for my future. Grief and uncertainty don’t go well together. If I wasn’t going to be a writer, what was I going to be? The question plagued me for months.

Eventually, my publisher began to wonder when I would return. I dreaded telling her that all the risks she took by publishing an unknown author were for nothing. But a funny thing happened on the way to the phone…

Sometimes life gives you exactly what you need. I chose to quit writing because my royalty statements didn’t seem worth missing time with my family. I needed to contribute financially to our household. After ten years, I thought I’d given it my best shot.

Then I got an email from a young girl who loved my YA Extreme Hauntings series and wanted to read the third book I was supposed to be writing. WRWA needed to hire a new editor for their newsletter, and when I finally did speak with my publisher, she invited me to take over Quake, their YA imprint – a paid position.

Fate, or maybe my parents watching over me, took away my “excuse” not to write. On top of my royalty payments, I had regular income as an editor. I decided to return to writing, to my family’s delight. Of all my blessings, their renewed pride in me meant the most. This also taught me a valuable lesson. Writing is such a big part of who I am, without it, I’m no longer me.

I’d like to close with this great quote from a recent favorite, Dorothy Dix:

It is only the women whose eyes have been washed clear with tears who get the broad vision that makes them little sisters to all the world.

Thank you for letting me share my story with you.




a_marketing_photoBorn blonde and Polish, Jennifer Turner writes action adventure thrillers and romances. She resides in Wisconsin with her husband Eddie, a red-headed Texan, and her three children, Dustin, Molly and Matthew. Raised by an eclectic assortment of artists and musicians, her upbringing helped shape and hone her imagination and dedication to the romantic arts. Between her commitments to family and writing, she actively pursues three things–white chocolate, dark chocolate, and more chocolate.

36 Responses to The Year I Quit Writing
  1. Jenny
    November 10, 2010 | 9:45 AM

    So glad to be here, Milli! Thanks so much for having me!


    • @fearofwriting
      Twitter: fearofwriting
      November 10, 2010 | 10:32 AM

      Jenny, we’re totally honored. Thank YOU for sharing this intimate story. I found it very moving, and could personally relate to the topic of giving up writing in 2010.

  2. Martin Bartloff
    November 10, 2010 | 9:50 AM

    I was so clueless as to why you may have withdrawn for the time being. Tragedy seemed like an excusable reason. I believed you needed some time off, gathering yourself. I lost my mother in 2003, my dad 2007 and just last month, one of my older brothers suddenly died.
    In between these deaths, one other aunt of mine died and I found out one of my best friends shot himself in 2009.

    I hadn’t seen or heard from him in a while and so I thought it was time to make contact. He had been dead all along.

    Death is a big part of life and I guess as we grow older ourselves, the once closest to us begin to leave this place we take for granted.
    Yes 2010 brought some tragedies for some of us. But in spite of all the tragedies you reemerged. I can’t even explain in words how glad we all are to have you back.

    You’re the greatest and sometimes life does give you just what you you need. It happened to me when I met you years ago on


    • Jenny
      November 10, 2010 | 12:31 PM

      Martin, you’ve said many wise things in your post πŸ™‚ I always smile when I see something you’ve written, like here, or in an email, or anywhere really. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment for me πŸ˜‰


  3. Marcus Hades
    November 10, 2010 | 11:19 AM

    I am a new writer and do seek wisdom and guidance from experienced writers all around the globe. More than the writer’s work, what I seek is how did these writers come up. There are many successful writers, but most people do not know how they became to be writers, or how tough life has been for them. Reading your story taught me two things: 1. If your dream is strong, it will never leave you. 2. Life is bad for everyone at some or many junctures in life. I dream to become a full time novelist one day and was more enthralled and encouraged reading your story. Please do visit my website and privilege me with your following. I am also on twitter @marcushades. Thank you. Kind regards. Marcus.

    • Jenny
      November 10, 2010 | 12:33 PM

      Marcus, I can so recall my first few years, struggling to understand the craft of writing. Milli and I met when I was really shaky and having a hard time. Without her, I don’t know what I would have done. Thank you bunches for writing to me and leaving me a comment!


    • Jenny
      November 10, 2010 | 12:36 PM

      P.S. Email me at jturner4ATcharterDOTnet and I’ll send your copy of Extreme Writing to you πŸ™‚

  4. Karen Syed
    November 10, 2010 | 2:19 PM

    Jenny, you’ve been through so much in the years since we first met and I have watched you grow as an author and as a person. I cannot tell you how proud I am of you and your accomplishments and it thrills me beyond words to have you in my life and my company.

    I look forward to many more years together.


    • Jenny
      November 10, 2010 | 2:22 PM

      Awww (((HUGS))) Serious (((HUGS))) Got me all teary-eyed over here. Thank you so much, Karen!! πŸ˜‰

  5. alexinmadison
    November 10, 2010 | 2:19 PM

    I’m sorry for the loss of your parents but what a lovely, moving and inspirational story came from your sadness! It’s amazing how, sometimes, the Universe gives you EXACTLY what you need.

    Congratulations. I look forward to reading you soon.

    • Jenny
      November 10, 2010 | 2:24 PM

      Thank you, Alex, for your thoughts about all this. They mirror my own. I think too, my parents would be really mad if I quit because they passed. In a way, by moving forward, I’m honoring them, right? And yes, it’s so awesome when the universe does that!! πŸ™‚

      Here’s to more Universal moments like that! πŸ™‚


  6. Bev Sninchak
    Twitter: elementalmuse
    November 10, 2010 | 2:39 PM

    What a wonderful story, Jenny! Truly inspiring! Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

    • Jenny
      November 10, 2010 | 2:41 PM

      Thank you so much, Bev! πŸ™‚

  7. Jenny
    November 10, 2010 | 2:42 PM

    Not sure who all wants a copy of Extreme Writing: Crafting the Action Scene, so I’ll just invite everyone to email me at for your copy πŸ™‚

  8. Heather S. Ingemar
    November 10, 2010 | 2:56 PM

    Sometimes you just have to take time for yourself and for your family. There’s nothing wrong with that. My husband and I manage the family farm, and there are times when life just kind of jumps up and smacks me in the face…

    I am very sorry to hear about your losses, but I am glad you’ve come back to the fold. You’re an amazing lady. πŸ™‚

    • @fearofwriting
      Twitter: fearofwriting
      November 10, 2010 | 3:02 PM

      I just have to jump in before Jenny gets here and say ~ I totally agree, Heather! She’s one amazing woman. And so easy to love.

      Thank you for visiting the blog today. We truly appreciate that!

      ~ Milli

    • Jenny
      November 10, 2010 | 3:12 PM

      Oh you two!! I’m totally feeling the love today. You just don’t know πŸ™‚ Thank you both so very much! Gosh, Milli, there ought to be some way to bottle up these warm-fuzzies and pass them out at parties! πŸ™‚

      So glad you could stop by, Heather πŸ™‚


  9. Lois
    November 10, 2010 | 4:42 PM

    I have often felt this way. I’ve yet to be published, but I know it’s only a matter of time as long as I stick with it.

    Thank you four pouring out your heart and soul. You are such an encouragement! πŸ™‚

    • Jenny
      November 10, 2010 | 4:53 PM

      Oh, please do stick with it, Lois πŸ˜‰ I wrote for five years, had four novels completely finished before I found publication. I think of all the life I would have missed if I’d stopped early on. There are so many great people I would never have gotten to know.

      And sushi! I got to eat sushi with Jenny Siler (aka Alex Carr) -one of my favorite authors. I always wanted to try sushi, but never had the chance and she taught me how.

      I’m so glad you found some encouragement in my post and thank you bunches for stopping by! πŸ™‚


      • Lois
        November 10, 2010 | 8:01 PM

        Believe me, I have no plans to stop writing. πŸ˜‰ I think of the people I’ve met since I’ve gotten back into writing and how I would never have met them otherwise. I wouldn’t want to trade it for anything. And even if I never get published, I’m still having fun telling my stories.

        Sushi is one thing I’ve been dying to try. My husband has had it, but he has yet to take me out to try it.

        • J.R. Turner
          November 10, 2010 | 9:01 PM

          For your next birthday, anniversary, part of your Christmas or Hannakuh present–whatever–make him take you out for sushi πŸ™‚ Even if you have to drive a bit to get there–it’s worth it!

          Who knows, maybe one day we’ll be at a book festival together and we can go out for sushi together. Stranger things have happened! πŸ™‚


          • Lois
            November 11, 2010 | 11:08 AM

            We don’t have far to go. He just thinks it costs a lot for how little you get. πŸ˜‰

            That would be so cool! πŸ˜€

  10. June Diehl
    November 10, 2010 | 8:19 PM

    Thanks for sharing your story, Jenny. I’m so glad you’ve made your way back to writing.

    You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

    Take care!

    • J.R. Turner
      November 10, 2010 | 9:01 PM

      June! Gosh, it’s so cool to see you here πŸ˜‰ Thank you so much for dropping in to leave a comment πŸ™‚


  11. Stephen Brayton
    November 10, 2010 | 9:42 PM

    If you write, the itch never really does leave. Even when other things jump into the forefront, the itch is still there. Glad to see you overcame adversity and recognized the itch for what it was.

    • Jenny
      November 11, 2010 | 8:08 AM

      I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to be itchy πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my guest blog, Stephen!


  12. Dana
    Twitter: danapittman
    November 10, 2010 | 11:42 PM

    Thank you for sharing your story. I love the quote.

    • Jenny
      November 11, 2010 | 8:10 AM

      Thanks so much for reading, Dana! I thought the quote was really amazing. I love the thought of being a little sister to the world. Makes me feel part of a larger family again and I think that’s sort of important for us solitary writers.


      • Dana
        Twitter: danapittman
        November 11, 2010 | 1:22 PM

        You’re welcome. I look forward to reading more posts from you.

        Take care,


  13. catherine
    November 11, 2010 | 6:59 PM

    What a touching story of your year 2010. I am so sorry for your loss of your parents. How life changing it is and no wonder you had to take a step back, embrace your family and give yourself space to grieve. It didn’t sound like you had an excuse not to write, but rather after such momentous events in a such a short period of time, a reason to re-evaluate your life. Your passion was still there, waiting for you, a new, changed you. Good luck with your future writing. I feel sure it will be touched by your loss and made better for your reawakening to your talent. Thank you for sharing your story Jenny.

    • Jenny
      November 12, 2010 | 9:48 AM

      Catherine, thank you so much for reading! I appreciate what you’re saying. I have been changed by the events of the last year and as hard as it’s been, I do believe I’ve changed for the better. I’m far less tied up in what I don’t have and far more appreciate all I do have. Thank you for commenting and letting me know your thoughts πŸ™‚


  14. Connie
    November 12, 2010 | 8:56 AM

    Jennie, I so understand. My mother died two years ago. It was expected, except that it never is. Everyone responds in different ways to such a huge event, but no one is ever the same.

    As I recall, your mother was a big supporter of your writing, and aside from knowing that you were born to write, I know that your returning to your vocation is a daily honoring of her belief in you.

    • Jenny
      November 12, 2010 | 9:51 AM

      Connie! It’s so wonderful to see you here πŸ˜‰ I’m so sorry to hear about your mom passing. You’re right, too–we expected my dad to pass, but it was still a shock when he did. Mom was really supportive. She designed my website for me and was my very first editor. I’m so blessed to have those things to make me feel close to her when I’m missing her most. I can “hear” her voice so well.

      (((Hugs))) to you–and thank you for taking the time to write your, as always, eloquent words πŸ˜‰ You are a beautiful person and author in your own right πŸ˜‰


  15. Marilyn
    November 12, 2010 | 2:04 PM


    My youngest daughter died two years ago, and I thought I’d never breathe again much less write. After a year passed by, the Universe stepped in and did what I was unable to do. Family and friends began to question when I would start writing again. Others made suggestions on how to overcome my grief, and a few reminded me that my daughter, if she could, would kick me right in the rear for using her death as an excuse not to live my life. Next, books, articles, and even commercials appeared that supported the Universal mantraβ€”Do it now!

    I got the message. I began to write. There were a lot of starts and stops and an excess of negative vibes from the inner critic, but one word became two, and now I’m even able to write this public note about a very private matter.

    Thank you, friend, for sharing your experience. I am delighted that you are writing again and the Universe has blessed your talented self. Whenever your name comes up, I like saying, β€œI knew her when.” Now I can say that I know her and she is a very special person.

    Marilyn from Artistic License

    • Jenny
      November 12, 2010 | 3:12 PM

      Oh Marilyn, I’m soo sorry for your loss. Truly sorry. I was stunned when I first heard of this. When I went to Texas to collect what I could of my mom’s things, they gave me her wallet. Later that night, in the hotel, I found my brother’s obituary from 1995. She carried it with her everywhere she went. I miss all of them so much, but I think there’s something more heart wrenching about losing a child. I think of my own kids and I feel your pain. Thank you so very much for responding to me and I’m so honored you shared your story here.

      I agree with all your friends and loved ones. Your writing is extraordinary and any publisher would be lucky to have you in their house. You’re truly a class act, Marilyn, and I’m going to be the one saying “I knew her when…” someday very soon, I’m certain.

      Mega ((((HUGS)))) to you.

  16. Patti Stafford
    Twitter: pattistafford
    November 13, 2010 | 5:10 PM

    There must be something about 2010. I haven’t completely stopped writing, but I’ve been on a long hiatus the past two or three months and just been “picking” at my novel.

    But sometimes we need time for reflection. And sometimes we need to get away from feeling pressured to do anything. I do feel guilt when I sit around idle, but it’s worth it to step back, take a look at where you’re at and where you want to go.

    Thanks for sharing your story,

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