Finishing – the new beginning

What is it about finishing a writing project that’s so charged with emotion? There are lots of wise words, not so wise words and downright stupid psycho-babble written about fear of finishing.

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(And that image reminds me of one of the best jokes from the Edinburgh Fringe this year: “My name’s Fin. Which means it’s very hard for me to end emails without sounding pretentious.”)

FEAR of finishing? FEAR?

I tell you what my main emotion is upon finishing a substantial piece…

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HUGE RELIEF

Almost immediately followed by EVEN HUGER

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There are a few other downsides to finishing a project, which I freely admit.

Here’s a quote from another writer called Daniel Swenson. (Maybe a comma would help that sentence?) Another writer, called Daniel Swenson.

“Finishing closes a door. It makes a commitment. It says “okay, that’s the best I can do” — whereas shoving an unfinished piece of writing in a drawer says “well, maybe I can do better later.” And that’s perfectly valid, assuming later ever comes.

But an unfinished work can take on its own sort of romance, if we let it. A mediocre book is just a mediocre book, but an unfinished, unwritten work of unalloyed genius, well, that’s a joy forever, isn’t it? But if you’re serious about being a writer, I suspect you don’t want your body of work to consist entirely of imaginary books.”

Yes, finishing a novel, a screenplay or a theatre piece means that, unless you shove it into a drawer, virtual or otherwise, there are CONSEQUENCES…

1) You open yourself up to being evaluated – which could mean rejection and criticism. (Why do I always assume it WON’T mean praise and acclaim?)

2) You have to embark on the often soul-destroying task of getting the work out there which, to me, is far more difficult than actually writing the thing in the first place.

3) You’re now in a position to start something else when you’re probably feeling a bit like this:

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I often turn to Neil Gaiman.  I don’t think he noticed yet.

“Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.” 

So here’s to glorious failures.

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And to finishing stuff.

And to starting new stuff so you can go through it all again.

 

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