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The Next Big Thing

Why is it when you I have a project due, something BIG like, say a dissertation,
you I suddenly find other things to do?  Bigger, shinier things?   Instead of  just finishing the thing, I dream about what’s next, I plan my garden, I get BIG ideas–I have a million of them, none with earning potential, of course.

In fact, my whole life is full of unfinished projects in the closet:  a half crocheted afghan, a beaded necklace with no clasp, a jacket that needs new buttons…  I have boxes and boxes filled with artistic potential:  art supplies, beads, found objects, magazines. And the writing:  essays, poems, stories languishing in files on my computer or half formed in my head.

Writing has become my metaphor for life.  All the obstacles I engage in the process of writing are the same ones I find myself up against in my own life, obstacles which are for the most part self-made, obstacles which I must learn how to overcome in order to find success.   The one I’m up against now is my desire to quit, I’m battling a compulsion to go drop this book and go on to the next project, find a job, anything to avoid finishing this thing….

But I know it’s all about fear.  If I finish this dissertation, and then turn it into a publishable book (or at least something I can proudly send off to an agent) I will have to succeed or fail on the merits of my work. I won’t be able to tell myself that the reason I didn’t succeed was because I didn’t try, or because I didn’t really want it in the first place. I will have confront my propensity for unfinished projects.  I will have put my heart and soul into this thing, this book, and I will have taken it as far as I can take it…  and still, it may not get out there into the world.

And this scares me.

 

4 comments to The Next Big Thing

  • What I so appreciate about your writing about writing (and life) here is that you’re not afraid to include the confusion, self-doubt, and frustration we all encounter doing this thing we love so much, this writing that can drive us crazy as it makes us who we are. Thank you for that.

    When you finish your dissertation and turn it into a publishable book, text that carries the mark of your heart and soul, I hope and trust it will find the good readers it deserves to help it get further out in the world.

  • admin

    Thanks for stopping by the blog and reading! and thank you even more for your kind words of encouragement. And for sharing YOUR stories too!

  • I thought two things when I read this. First, Jenn is a scanner like me. She is hard-wired to create, to learn new things, to generate new ideas. She’s not really motivated by money, but rather by ideas and their potential….

    Some of these projects were never meant to be finished. They were merely part of the process. You took from them what you needed and moved on like a bee moves from flower to flower.

    My second thought was while there are many good things about being a scanner, the big drawback is that it’s easy to use all those potential projects as a means to procrastinate and avoid the very thing that most needs to be finished (ie, the book). I do it too. Mostly because planning new projects is easy and fun and finishing a book is pretty much the exact opposite.

    Thanks for reminding me that this is really about fear. Not only fear that the book won’t get published, but also fear that one day, against all odds, it just might. Keep writing, Jenn. Don’t give up until the book is published.

  • admin

    Yes, Cynthia, I am a scanner–I blame it on the 70s when the education system was all about “concept” learning :-) I find myself bored once I sort of have an idea of how something works, or when it gets to the point of maintaining the system…. I like to create the system. But I really do believe it is about fear, fear of failure, and fear of success. I hope you don’t give up either, Cynthia, you too have an important story to tell an dyou are a great writer.

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