I start way more things than I finish.
I think that’s pretty common for writers. We get the idea, the great and glowing thing in our heads, and we dash off to our computer (or in my case, my notebook) and get to work, scribbling or tapping away. Sometimes the idea just dries up and we stop. Sometimes we keep going for a while and then we get another idea and drop the first one. Sometimes we keep at it but our doubts and insecurities and lives and busyness and procrastination and what have you just get in the way.
But sometimes, just sometimes, none of this happens.
I’ve just today finished the longest thing I’ve ever written. It took me 13 months (yeah, no NaNoWriMo for Jimmy) to write 157 pages of longhand YA modern fantasy novel. It’s the first time I’ve ever finished anything close to this length that was fiction; most of my longer stuff is philosophical ramblings. The previous story record was about 50 pages and that was in 2003. And the best part is that I’m not done. The story, assuming I finish it, is a trilogy.
So why am I bothering to document this in Cyberspace, and why do I think anyone else will give a crap about it?
We live in a society where accomplishment is measured in material things. Success is weighed in square footage of house, names on clothing tags, shininess of car. We rarely allow ourselves, or perhaps we are rarely allowed, to feel accomplishment for its own sake, to just feel good about “hey, I did that”. It has to be “okay, you did that, now what will you do with it?” Everything has to be a product.
Yet real accomplishment has nothing to do with that. Our sense of worth and worthiness is garnered from being something, not having something. Think of the times you really felt good about yourself. Did it have anything to do with some material acquisition, or did it come from within? Neale Donald Walsch once wrote that part of the reason our society is so unhappy is because we have what he calls the “be/do/have paradigm” upside down. We think that, in order to be something, happy for instance, we have to have something first, like more money. This having will allow us to do things (take a trip, buy a house, pay a bill) which will then allow us to be what we want (happy). He says that we have this backwards. We instead should decide what we want to be, then do things that move us towards that. This will then create things to have that work with the doing and being.
Today I have finished my book. I did this because I chose to be a writer and to stick to it, no matter what. This led me to do something, which was to make time to write every day, even if it was just a few minutes to write a few words. This made it possible for me to have a finished book, and a great sense of accomplishment because of it.
Mr. Walsch might be onto something. 🙂