Where I come from, you finish what you start. Join a team; make every practice. Get an assignment; complete it on time. Start a book; finish the book. Say you’re going to do whatever; do whatever until whatever is done. Those were the rule’s in my mother’s house, so those are the rules, at age 32, I still march to in my own house. Good training, Nancy.
I’ve recently stumbled upon a quandary with regard to these instincts. The project I started a few months ago, a new book, was being threatened by a series of things: a) I wasn’t sure if I was up to the task of jumping, feet first into a long work of fiction, b) I was kind of procrastinating, c) I was hit with another idea that I got really excited about.
But following new ideas into the weeds with an open project pending isn’t part of my programming. So I resisted. Maybe later. I said I’m doing this thing. So I’m doing it.
Yet weeks later, I’d done nothing (but think! I did some thinking!) on the original book idea, but couldn’t put the new concept down. I’m super motivated to work on it. It’s a bridge between non-fiction and fiction. It only partially intimidates me, rather than petrifies me. And I think it’s marketable. And I think it will help me prepare to work on the original idea later.
Would you believe it took me even longer to decide to put the one down for the other? Maybe it was my Nancy training. Maybe it’s that, as a storyteller, narrative order important to me. Sticking with a story from beginning to the end is crucial. Abandoning this story, that I do want to tell, just seems wrong. But after long consideration, I was able to convince myself it was going to be worth it in this case. The first project isn’t over. It’s just set aside. Life will continue.
And more importantly, so will my writing. Rather than being stalled out, I’m working. Whether this project or the next is the one ends up being the more important one long term, if only for that reason alone, it seems clear to me that what I’m working on now is more important for today. Make that determination was no small feat, but I’m feeling good about it. No matter how much kicking and screaming the rule following corner of my brain is doing.