Sometimes, writing is much like seeded grapes. You keep the good part and throw out the bitter seeds that you don't want or need.
Nasty buggers, those seeds.
When choosing what to throw out of your writing life, whether it be within a story or even in your "network" of writer-ish types, bear one thing in mind. You can't do everything for everyone, nor can you include every little thing. Sure helping people is great, doing things with other writers is great, but egads, it's draining.
I took a good, hard look at myself this morning and I don't even like what I see. There is absolutely no color in my face what-so-ever, the circles under my eyes seem to have doubled (even for a chick with chronic insomnia), and I have lost so much weight it's scary. Oh yes, I can count my ribs and cut people with my hip bones. Not good at all. I was sitting comfortably at about a buck forty (women all over are gasping in shame that someone told their weight on the evil interwebz) and I'm down almost thirty pounds from that. Hell, I feel unhealthy.
We writers try so hard to spread ourselves out--but a too thin layer of cheese on any cracker is useless. Might as well just let it slide off, yes?
The life of a writer, especially one just starting in the publishing business, can be very isolating. More and more time gets spent on editing, writing new sections, rewriting this or that, reading for one writer friend, reading for another, trying to make sure you talk to everyone in the biz you know a few times a week at least. The writer forgets what the sun looks like, forgets what he or she looks like, what outside smells like. They forget to eat (just coffee and a cigarette, please!), forget to call their mother on her birthday, forget to pick up bread for lunch. Got to churn out more words.
We're not machines, okay guys? Yes, setting goals is great. As long as they are realistic goals and one doesn't forget to take care of themselves. You can't write shit if you're dead.
Writing needn't be an obsession. It should be fun, should be something you enjoy doing as much as you desire to do it. If it becomes a chore, what you put out turns to crap.
Writing crap is okay--after all there is nothing you can't fix and sometimes you have to write crap because it just won't leave you alone. But if it gets to the point of burning yourself out, I think it's time to reassess exactly what you are doing. No one's chosen career should kill them. And if you only put out crappy writing, you need to take a look at what caused the change and get back to you. A tired, burnt-out writer can't write for themselves, much less socialize with others and help them out.
Which brings us full circle.
How many of your "writer" friends only talk to you when they want help with something? Thankfully, this has happened very few times to me, and I've had no problem cutting them the fuck out of my circle of writerly friends. If I hadn't, I'd be in worse shape than I am now. This is taxing, guys. If all you do is take and take and take, with no reciprocal return for whom you take from, you are only hurting yourself in the long run. We should help each other, not be selfish and only get what we can out of each other. This business is tough enough and draining enough without selfishness added to the mix. Eventually, the takers will have taken all they can get from every writer whose path they have crossed and there will be no one to help them when they really need it.
And if you are one of those that only take, I say this. Shame on you, asshole.
Peace & Love, y'all