NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Finishing

on July 9, 2013

How do you decide when something is finished? Whether it’s writing a report for a class, or refurbishing your house, all projects eventually need to be “done.” I’ve had friends and relatives, and I admit I’ve fallen into this category too, who are perfectionists. We want everything to be perfect, we want our best effort to be seen. And well this makes it hard to ever be “finished.”

However, I’ve started to overcome this obstacle to finishing. I think it started in my first painting class in college. I had painted before, and well… it took forever. Every dab of paint was important, I had to use tiny dots of paint on my brush so I didn’t have too much and mess up all my work. It seriously took me at least four months to finish one tiny little picture.

Well the first day of class I come in to find that we will be painting 6 pictures in one semester, all on large canvases. My world was turned upside down. I couldn’t paint like a perfectionist anymore, the limited amount of time wouldn’t let me. And so, I changed. Instead of putting tiny dots of paint on my brush, I’d scoop up a big blob. Instead of dabbing the canvas, I’d make big strokes. It was hard to relearn, to change, to be uncomfortable with “the mess.” But thankfully I had a good teacher. He showed me that if I just went for it, and got all the basic shapes and colors arranged, then I could come back in with details later and still end up with a beautiful painting.

October 2009 030
I think the same thing can happen with writers. We start off wanting to write something, a novel perhaps, or a poem, or whatever. But we want it to be perfect, to perfectly express what’s in our minds. And that makes it hard to start. We can spend so much time on little changes, on using “the perfect word” to describe something, that we end up never finishing.

Instead I’d challenge writers to just start. Spit out whatever is on your brain, even if it isn’t very good, and then come back later and “touch up.” That’s what editing is for anyway. And then when you finally finish that paper or project, celebrate! Don’t critique yourself with little errors you missed, just enjoy the final product and relax.

So here’s a poem I “finished.” Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

Lydia Hill

February 2, 2012

Life’s Gait

I used to take riding lessons

in the dust of a parched Texas summer.

The steady beat and swift breeze

kept me circling the worn path.

Click of the tongue,

nudge to the stomach,

tug on the reigns,

up and down with the motion.

Sometimes we canter quickly,

sometimes we walk slow,

but always we must move.

We cannot stop the flow

round the earth,

round the sun,

the motion of time,

since life first begun.

We like to think

we have control,

that our choices determine

where we will go.

Then in the air, all

power stripped away

hit the hard ground

wondering what went wrong

Did I lose control

or ever even have it?

Legs shake as I rose, to face

my choice.

Do I sit out on life?

Or jump back in?

It will keep moving,

whatever my decision.

I could fall again,

and break more than my pride.

But is security worth the price,

of losing out on life?

I climbed back on,

determined to keep in mind

that despite my lack of control,

life is still a fun ride.

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