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.