photo © 2007 Brad Gocken | more info (via: Wylio)
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. – Annie Dillard, “The Writing Life”
The other day I sent out a message on Twitter:
“If you are always starting new things, when will you finish the story you were created to write?”
I was actually writing this to no one but myself. I have this wonderful habit of starting new stories and never finishing them. My computer is riddled with innumerable Chapter Ones and characters waiting to be developed. It’s like opening a refrigerator and finding a dozen plates of food, partially eaten, wrapped protectively in plastic wrap.
* * * * *
Sometimes I worry that I am creating a pattern in my writing that is becoming increasingly difficult to tear myself from: the pattern of unfinished beginnings.
So many times we bemoan our seemingly mediocre lives, all the while skipping from this beginning to that one, living on the adrenaline-pumping nature of coming out of the starting gate. But we cannot sprint forever. The new business we determined to start trickles to a stop as we are faced with the harsh realities of what perseverance requires. We bail from yet another relationship – commitment is not nearly as fun as that first kiss.
And telling the stories as we imagined them in our heads takes more work than we ever thought possible. So they are shelved until the following week, when a fresh character sends us out of the gate, sprinting again. But our sides begin to ache and we bend over, hands on knees, out of breath.
And we walk back to the starting gate. Again.
* * * * *
I love my generation. I love our free spirits, our open minds, our refusal to look at things the same way as the generations before us.
But there are things I see in my generation that scare me, things I see in myself – an obsession with beginnings, a skepticism towards repetitive disciplines, a desire to avoid commitment of almost any kind.
How can I break my own fear of committing to the story?
* * * * *
Annie Dillard writes, “There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet.”
How do you move yourself from the excitement of beginnings to the long hard work of writing the middle?
How do you persevere?