When the finish line is the start line

I finished a draft of a novel last week. I should be more excited about this than I am, but 297 pages in and all I can see is the work ahead of me. It took me probably six weeks to write the last twenty pages, partly because I didn’t quite know where I was heading, but mainly because I knew once I finished I’d have to start all over again. I do not get excited when the reward for finishing a job is more work.

While I was procrastinating those pages I wallpapered my bathroom, made a bunch of food to freeze for busy nights, made pillowcases and a cat pillow for a friend, shopped for accessories for the new bathroom, started a finance class, did ceramics with my daughter, and painted our new shed. You know what all these things have in common? Once they’re done, they’re done. I buy a soap dispenser and the soap dispenser remains bought. I wallpaper the bathroom and (god willing) the wallpaper stays up. Granted, I make a shit-ton of burritos and we eventually eat them and I have to make more, but every time I make them, at least they turn out.

I’ve long thought it’s important to have things to make in your life that you’re not perfect at but that you’re pleased by. I tried this kind of fancy border thing on the cat pillow and the corners are super weird, but you know what? Still looks cute and will be fine for the cats. You might want to squint when looking at the top corners in my bathroom, but I don’t care because I take pride in the fact I did these tasks, and with projects I like to keep in mind my friend’s mantra: ninety-four is still an A.

I need to remember, even if the novel draft isn’t very good (yet!), I should be pleased that I made it to the end. And I need to shift my thinking to remember that the writing itself is its own kind of reward, and to stop putting pressure on the task. Write breathe revise, and be pleased.


2 comments

  1. Brett says:

    Hooray! I repeat: Hooray! A NOVEL DRAFT! Congratulations!–Brett B.

  2. erin flanagan says:

    Brett, thanks so much!! Damn it, yes, hooray!!!

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