Today I would like to talk about how I am good at starting many things. For example, I am really good at starting the laundry. I’m good at starting meal plans. I’m good at starting to pull weeds. I’m good at starting blankets. I’m good at starting fitness plans. I am good at starting organizing closets. I am very very good at starting books.

Here is what I’m bad at: Finishing things.

I have lots of yarn, lots of rotten vegetables, lots of buckets of paint, lots of piles of laundry, lots of stacks of books and lots of beginnings of novels. All of these have or had the potential to be something new, something beautiful, or something delicious, something interesting, or something true. Something clean or something happy.

But instead, they sit. In corners, in closets, on computers. They sit. They sit and they whisper to me at night. They tell me stories and tickle my toes. They show up in flashes, visions of what could have been. They appear in dreams. And in the sky, when I lay on the grass or float in a pool. They are everywhere, beckoning to me, these unfulfilled creations (and yes, laundry can be beautiful, my friends, it really can).

So why don’t I do it? Why don’t I finish things? Especially when on the rare times that I do finish them, when I make the gigantic effort to see something through to the end and feel the kind of elation that only comes after a tremendous amount of gut-wrenching work, especially when I know the pay-off whether it be a quilt or a meal or a closet full of clean clothes or a new garden or a finished novel, will make me someone different, someone happier, someone calmer . Even when I know that, I still resist pushing through to the end.

I wonder why? There are lots of reasons.

1. I get lazy.

2. Other things get in the way

3. I get stuck

4. It gets hard

5. I stop believing I can do it–that I can’t match the beauty I envisioned. That my efforts will fall short so I shouldn’t even try

6. I’m scared.

7. I stop believing in it. I lose the vision.

8. I mess up.

9. I’m tired.

10. Someone tells me I can’t do it.

I have a book that has followed me around for years. It has whispered, it has called, it has floated, it has sung. And I still will not listen. My goal is to finish it. By the end of the year. I am going to finish it. I am going to push through all the self doubt and hard complexities and tiredness and outside influences and everything else, and i’m going to finish this book.

Neil Gaiman’s advice: Write and finish things. I think he knows what he’s talking about.

What are you going to finish?


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3 responses to “Today

  1. *sigh*
    i want to finish one.

  2. This post was so hurtful to read. Right now my kitchen isn’t even a place I can work in because I’ve been cleaning out one of those corners and all the “stuff” is one the table. Take a walk through the house and it repeats.

    I have three novels on the old computer that I don’t even know if I can ever retrieve. Oh the sadness.

    Thanks for your honesty and whatever book it is you have waiting…it will be a wonderful one.

  3. CLW

    I wonder if writers are like this. Starters. Hard-to-finishers.
    My starts plague me, too.
    The if onlies.
    If only I would write 5000 words a day.
    Or cook a meal.
    Or clean the house.
    OR OR OR.
    I am going to finish a book with you, Ann Dee.
    I am going to catch up on my life.
    No . . .sheesh.
    I need to go watch HGTV.


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