Finish what you started.

I am writing this post some thirty thousand feet above the ground, seat 16A. A few moments ago, we flew over the snow-capped, Swiss Alps and I found myself day-dreaming of June, when I will be hiking up them with my mom. But for now, I am heading towards London with a promise of rain and a sad low of 9 °C.

For the past hour and a half, I have been writing the last chapter of my novel, hoping to compose its very last word while cruising the skies. You have to admit that would be something to remember. Alas, it will probably have to happen behind my desk, or in a quirky café around Greenwich Market. One thing is certain however, I will finish it and the thought itself – that of a completed first draft – makes my heart swell.

finish-what-you-started

The truth is, I have rarely (dare I say never) finished anything I have started. I can hear my mom, on the rare occasions I exasperate her, repeating this one sentence over and over again, like a broken record. “Finish what you started” – the chorus of my adolescent years. I started playing the piano and gave it up after 13 years of an intense relationship with classical music. I started making hand-painted lamps and quickly lost the enthusiasm. I started the TEFL course to teach English abroad and still haven’t completed it. I could carry on, but you get the gist.

Cabin crew, prepare the cabin for landing. Ironically, it looks like I won’t be finishing this post now. The view from the window is all clouds and no sky. London awaits in the gloom. The seatbelt sign has just turned on with a soft ping, we will be touching down soon.

*Back at my desk, sipping a much needed afternoon coffee*

Having been forced to pause my writing, I have had the time to reflect on my words and I realise that there are two reasons why we don’t finish what we start:

1. Obstacles

These can be mishaps, setbacks that get in the way, planes preparing to land or in one word – life. They can be perfectionism, procrastination, fear, doubt, financial troubles, bad luck… you name it. These are things that, like nearly any obstacle, can be overcome. They will require a great deal of patience, perhaps even sacrifices and determination. But sooner or later, things fall into place and what was begun will be completed.

2. Passion (or lack thereof)

I have been trying to find myself ever since I graduated from university. For many, this is an achievement in itself, something to be proud of and consider as a “finished” task and although this is all true, graduation is not finishing. It is starting. It is going for a ride, unsure of the destination. I have been on this ride for nearly three years now and looking back, there is a lot that is left unfinished. But unlike reason No. 1, this is not because of life, it is because I didn’t have enough drive and motivation to finish them. Because they didn’t come from within. Because they were distractions from what really mattered, from those things that make my heart race and stretch my lips into a smile. Music. And writing.

All you need to do, is sift through it all.

*

Thanks for reading.
Hop on my Facebook and Twitter caravans.

27 responses to “Finish what you started.

    • You need reading and you shall receive reading. I would actually love your opinion once it’s all finished, would you be up for it? (I don’t see this happening for another 5 months minimum, but simply asking :) )

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Congrats! It was certainly a very strange, bittersweet moment to finish my own novel, and it certainly does give you pause to reflect about the process. I definitely know what you mean about obstacles to finishing what we start, and one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to soldier on. It’s very tempting to abandon a plot or a story when it gets hard – you tell yourself you have a better idea or you’ll come back later or you’re wasting your time – but finishing itself is very important, if just for the strength you gain by doing so. Sticking with things is a crucial lesson to learn, and I’m glad you feel the same way. Good luck with revisions, they’re the fun part!

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      • It’s a high fantasy novel that’s a half serious, half tongue-in-cheek take on common fantasy tropes. As for the story – it’s about an walled-in city, surrounded by all sorts of terrible creatures that have kept them hemmed in for centuries, and their chance is coming up to end the constant siege. The main character is a 17-year old boy who’s accidentally figured out what’s really going to happen when this “chance” arrives. I actually kinda like it, and it’s fun to edit!

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      • I’m currently in the process of editing – the first draft came in at around 190,000 words, so it’s really been a bear to rework and trim down. Between that and my ten million other writing projects, I’m hoping to have it in good shape by the end of the summer. Once that happens, I’ll look into traditional publishing before anything else. I didn’t have any sort of expectations for it at the outset, but I quite liked where it ended up, so at the very least I’d like to see where it stands.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s great! And of course you should see it through, sounds like too big a project not to finish and show others. 190,000 words. Wow. Keep it up and good luck!

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  2. Not that unusual in today’s world. I have two thoughts in this regard. As Stephen Covey states in his book the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People ” Begin with the End in Mind” So often we set out on a journey of the heart or mind without an end in mind, making it very easy for ourselves to simply put the baggage down at an intersection in life’s highway and take a left or a right. We must keep our destinations in sight and keep the goals in reach. Better many small goals achieved then one lofty goal never reached. Would we attempt to summit Everest without first spending years in preparation on others.
    Second is a favorite quote of mine “What Information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” It is no wonder that ADHD and other attention deficits are rampant today – we are confronted by so much that we lack concentration. before the printing press was invented people would memorize the entire scriptures and pass them from generation to generation … Have you read Marshall McLuhan’s ‘Understanding Media’ – Surely the medium is the message!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and for your insightful comment. I have read neither of the books you are referencing but they seem to be making a clear point.
      Although sometimes, the beauty is in not knowing the end, even if you are striving for it without knowing so. I would say this applies partly in writing a novel, too. If you start writing, knowing the end, I will not feel spontaneous but rather forced, and obvious. Then again, there is a right middle with everything…

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  3. Insightful words. It’s good that you can recognize the tendency in yourself. Most people can’t, or don’t want to. I’ve almost always finished what I started. Nothing drives me up the wall more than unfinished projects everwhere. Best of luck with your novel!

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    • Thank you for stopping by and following! I definitely can, and my mom’s constant (but loving) badgering wouldn’t have kept it hidden from me for much longer. :D The good thing is that once you recognize it, you can work on it and my novel is the first project I feel capable of, excited and WILLING to finish. Thanks again!

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  4. Everyone should have a mom like your’s to encourage you to stick with things because life is not always easy. My brain has now inserted a permanent image of your mom saying that when I know I am not finishing (or not starting). You are right, things fall into place. Sometimes we can hurry things up or slow them down but we grow like vines, not always in a straight line without training. Who is to say which way is more beautiful. I love that we can overcome obstacles and switch paths and projects and follow passions or not. Makes for a very colorful life sometimes. In the end, nature will happen and all will finish in some way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “We grow like vines”. Beautifully written and very true… There is no right way, I guess, as long as we end up where we want to be.
      My mom would be proud to hear you say that; I can assure you I have a permanent image too!
      Thank you so much for stopping by, your words are very wise and I hope to see you around more often. :)

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  5. When you hit the sweet spot, it slows to a cruise, and that’s how you know you’ve arrived at the place you’re supposed to be. Keep doing what you like and figure a way to make it work for you.

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  6. Thanks Rob. Your comment had gotten lost in my notifications and I’m only seeing this now. I still haven’t finished this last chapter but the end is looking more and more real and near.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The light at the end of the tunnel. | A Writer's Caravan·

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