Monday, February 10, 2014

Facing the fear of (not) finishing

I discovered as a teenager who endured her fair share of visits to the doctor, dentist and orthodontist, that I have a fear. A fear of not finishing what I start. I realized after a while that my anxiety in the waiting rooms was not due to the coming examination or the threat of my braces being tightened. No, it came from knowing that I would not finish the magazine article I was reading before the nurse came to whisk me away.

I avoided magazines for years. (No, I wasn't bright enough to figure out a different solution. No buying a copy of the magazine. No ripping the relevant pages from the doctor's copy. No asking the office manager to make a Xerox of the article in full.)

Fast forward to many years later and I realize I still have a fear of not finishing. For Christmas, I was given the first volume in a projected three part biography of the late actress, Barbara Stanwyck. That puppy clocks in at over 1000 pages. What if I start it and the next volume takes 10 more years before it's published? I'll be hanging out on a limb for that whole time.

This fear of not finishing keeps me from committing to all sorts of things -  TV shows and book series, primarily. Thank goodness that Karen Marie Moning's Fever series is complete! And that Breaking Bad is now available for the ultimate binge watching weekend. You won't find me watching or reading George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series until it is done, Done, DONE. Nope.

So, tricky thing, this fear of not finishing. I've spent a good portion of my journey as a writer beginning projects and not seeing them through to the end. I'd think that with this monkey on my back, it would keep pushing me to the finish line. I haven't found that to be the case. What good is a phobia if you can't make it work for you, I ask?

I think one reason I've been a starter and not a finisher is that there is always a rosy glow of possibility when you're in the middle of a project. No rejections, no harsh reality. Anything can happen - within the story itself and with the story's publication future. In a sense, it's a stress-free zone.

I'm working on revisions to a story I, in fact, actually, truly and honestly finished in December. After much prodding, pushing, and self-cajoling, I made it to The End. And now I'm enjoying working my way toward The Revised End.

Because at some point, you've got to face your fears. Am I right?


  1. Keely ~ Love it. Hilarious & yet so true. Yes, you must face your fears. And you're doing a great job of it. So proud of you! Can't wait to see the current WIP in print and on a shelf somewhere! Keep pushing & keep fighting that fear. You are STRONGER THAN EVERY FEAR. Yes, I stole that from a t-shirt slogan I saw recently. But I <3 it! Great post. Thanks for sharing your fears & your journey with us.

  2. Thanks, Candy!

    One of the many sayings I picked up in my time with Mary Kay that I often repeat to myself: Fear is just False Evidence Appearing Real.

  3. Great article Keely, I have this as well! Congrats on finishing round 1 of your manuscript, that is really something to be proud of! - Penny

  4. Hi Penny! Thanks for stopping by and for your encouragement. I worked for a few hours on my revisions last night - happy to report I remain upbeat and excited with how they are shaping up!