KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!


The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

Finishing

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Finishing

 

The goal and the fruit of a true discipline is completion.  The completion of the work of art.”

Pat Schneider, Writing Alone and with Others

            There are icebergs all over my study — piles of paper that represent the mere tips of manuscripts I have begun but not yet completed.  Most days I sail blithely among the hidden masses, maneuvering as if with sonar to avoid a brush with their frigid bulks.

“Frigid” suits these projects, since they have grown icy and remote-feeling.  Their temperature plunges the longer I refuse to approach them.  There’s the novel looming in a corner, the set of essays peeking from the back of a vertical file, a memoir whose weight disappears into a notebook on a bookcase.

Two or three times a year, I propose a plan of action to reclaim one or all of these bergs and melt it down in order to remember  the taste of its refreshment.  I propose.  But I do not engage with the novel or revive the essay collection.  I continue writing bits and pieces, filing them with others of their kind, not even believing anymore that I will really bring one of these books to reality.  My might-have-been books evaporate, directly from their solid mass into mist.

The heavy cold of these unfinished pieces makes me doubt that I will complete the next big piece of writing I begin.  As I age into what I had thought would be more leisurely years, my life remains full and diverse, busier than ever:  there is a new generation of offspring I have a hand in raising; new opportunities for engagement with other artists and with my community; and teaching remains one of my deep joys.  I am reluctant to give any of it up.

I am even more reluctant, however, to give up on the writing projects I’ve begun— at least until I’m sure that I am not interested in completing them.  (After all, I don’t have to finish anything if I don’t want to.  An important point to remember!)

Last month I picked up Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home one day as I browsed the library’s non-fiction tableLate in the book, Rubin notes that we overestimate how much we can get done in a short time (a day or a week), but we also seriously underestimate how much we can get done little by little over an extended period.

I have put this wisdom into action on tasks that I dread (like filling out my income tax worksheet).  I wondered if it might work to help address the ice floes in my study.  My strategy is to choose one neglected project (the novel first) and devote fifteen minutes a day to it.  For the first two weeks I plan to not go one moment past the fifteen minute limit.  Fifteen minutes is manageable, no matter how busy my day is.  One way I can make sure the fifteen minutes happens is to do it first thing in the working day, before I have a chance to think about it too much.  I am finding that not letting myself work past my time limit also creates anticipation about what I might accomplish or discover the next day.

I’ve barely begun this regimen, so I am not sure how it will turn out.  My guess is that I will still need some kind of deadline (self-imposed or imposed by a call for submissions) in order to push through to a new draft of the novel.  For now, I am exploring — getting reacquainted with the book.  Getting inspired fifteen minutes at a time.

I promise to report back here in two months (aha! a self-imposed deadline: I’m putting it on my calendar) with a blog post:  Finishing, Part 2.

 

One response to “Finishing”

  1. Ann Olson says:

    So well written – surely more than a 15 minute task, and we are grateful as always for your generosity. Ann O

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