Fear and Finishing

Letters to My UnPublished Self Part 3 

I was prepared to face all the things I thought would scare me in my writing journey.   Fear of a being able to fill up that first page.  The abject terror- fear of sharing my work for the first time.  The inevitable fear of receiving a rejection letter from a publisher.  But one fear that I hadn’t considered, overtook me by surprise.  The fear of finishing. 

 My nephew with whom I have a pact; he finishes college I write a book, shared with me last summer that he’d decided to delay his graduation until December.  Because he’s afraid.

 Finishing college means something’s going to chance.  

 I told him I supported his decisions and encouraged him to have one hell of a good time that fall.  What I couldn’t admit to him; because he thinks I’m fearless, is that I’m crippled with the same fear. 

 Finishing my first novel means something’s going to change. 

 I worked so hard to finish my WIP by the end of 2008.   I made significant progress at the end of the year but I didn’t finish.  I let distractions prevent me from finishing on my next deadline date Valentines Day 2009.  Then came Easter, still not done.  

 There is a difference between writing a book and being  published.  But the bigger chasm is between saying you are going to write a book and getting it done.  And what about the new set of challenges I would face.  What if I can’t secure an agent and publishing contract?  I slowed down and set a new deadline. 

 The fear of finishing is more insidious than a fear of failing.  When we dwell in the fear of failing we don’t have to look back at our efforts.  With a fear of finishing you have a constant reminder that there is this body of work –something you’ve produced, creative  energy spent that’s undone.  Time invested when you finish, time wasted if it’s left undone. 

So to further procrastinate I asked a few friends of mine, writers and artist, if the fear of finishing is an actual phenomenon.  It’s more common than you might think. 

After my detour into inquiry.  I went back at work.   I finished my first draft by my May deadline.  I completed self editing, rewrites (which I found more difficult that writing in the first place).  I pressed on and accomplished the goal.  I actually wrote a book.  I’m ready for the change, to start the query process.  Wait.  I’m afraid.  I’ll need to process this one before I move on.  But move on I will. 

 One day I’m going to look back in wonder.

 By the way on December 12, 2009 my nephew graduated from Albany State University.  He handed me his diploma and I will give him a copy of my finished book.

He Finished!

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