Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week Eight-Lesson Eight: Don't Be Afraid To Finish What You've Started

My book is due to the publisher March 1st and to be honest, I'm scared and dragging my feet.

I've never been good with endings. I'm fantastic with ideas and getting the ball rolling, I slog through the process of seeing the ideas become reality, but when I get to the end or close to the end, I feel like my legs (or my fingers in this case) are heavily leaded. Every step (press of a key) feels weighty. At the end of any BIG project or event, I often go into either panic mode or avoidance mode. Thoughts like, "I don't know if I can finish this" or "I don't know if I can do this" swirl through my mind. Is there a phobia for that? A fear of finishing things? Does anyone know what it's called?

This isn't a new phobia for me. I've written about it before. I wrote about how I trained for a half marathon after college for weeks and weeks and weeks. I was prepared for the task at hand, but once I got close to the finish line I practically had to crawl over it. But the phobia goes back as far as early childhood. I was at a lake swimming in the "kiddie" section. If you wanted to swim out with the big kids, you had to pass a swim test. You had to swim out to a dock and turn around and swim back to the starting dock. I would say that the distance between the two docks was about the length of an average-sized swimming pool. I watched my sister do this with poise and grace. She swam effortlessly through the sparkling lake without a trace of exhaustion, pulled herself up on the starting dock and said, "Your turn!"

I hesitantly got into the water. I started off great. Nice even pace, clean strokes--I touched the dock and then pushed off with my feet out into the open water again. I could see my father and sister sitting on the starting dock. My father yelled, "C'mon, you are almost there!" And then everything got blurry. About a meter from the starting dock, I began to sink. I stuck my hand up in the air and the lifeguard dove in to rescue me and bring me safely up on the dock. I was humiliated. I am the older sister. Why couldn't I finish this easy swimming test? I wrote about this in a previous post and my sister commented and let me know that I did that test again and passed with flying colors. I don't remember that part.

So here I am again, a week before the finish line and I'm starting to sink. Or maybe I'm just coasting. Not sure. I woke up late, had a nice meal with my husband, took a walk, goofed around on the internet, read a few books for "research" and now I'm writing to you all on my blog and it's 4:12pm. Where did my day go?

What I've come to realize is that dreams are never quite like reality. It doesn't mean you shouldn't dream. You must dream. Just don't get stuck in the dream. Put a foundation under that dream of yours, otherwise what's the point? Dreaming and coming up with ideas are the easy part. Seeing your dreams through to the very END is the hard part. Why? Because when you dream about becoming an author or an actor or a painter or a musician or starting a business or changing careers or having a baby or getting married, the pictures of what this life looks like in your mind's eye are, well, dream-like. You don't imagine the baby screaming non-stop or the hours of writing with no human contact or the money issues or the lack of work or the economy crashing. Everything in your dream is rosy and cheery and maybe even....perfect!

But nothing is perfect. No one's life is perfect. I'm not a perfect writer. But I continue because I set this dream into motion. I put the foundations down. I asked for it and I got it and now I have to FINISH IT! And to be truthful, it's not as easy as I thought it would be. But I accept the good with the difficult and hard and crazy and uneasy and painful and uncertain. That's part of the whole package. It wouldn't be worth it if all I had to do was wave my magic wand and, BEHOLD! the book appeared. What would be the point of that? What makes a dream worthwhile is not just having a dream become reality, but what one has to go through to realize it.

So here I am at the end. I'm in avoidance mode. I'm afraid to finish. Maybe I'm afraid it's not good enough. I need another tweek here and another tweek there before it's perfect. But it is what it is and to be honest, I think it's pretty darn good. So with that, I'm going to take the bull by its horns and I'm going to face all my fears and I'm going to finish this thing. Yes, that's what I'm going to do. March 1st, I hear you calling and I promise I will deliver...

32 comments:

  1. Katherine,
    Keep your eyes on the prize. I imagine that in writing this blog post lies the strength to do the very thing that scares/excites/intimidates/thrills you. All the best as you finish you project.
    Kim

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  2. Kudos to you Katherine! I'm sure it will be everything you've imagined it to be, and more. And that little thing at the end where you finish it off - I think it's called faith. :)

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  3. Katherine,
    Thank you for posting in the midst of these last strokes to the dock. Know that you are not alone for a minute -- that you are being carried by a vibrant and ever-expanding circle of admirers, supporters, and students of your own love and wisdom. With your gifts, and these others in your life, you can "walk like an Egyptian," into the face of anything that seems to stand in the way of what wants to be.
    blessings,
    Caroline

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  4. Katherine~
    I wouldn't doubt that you've already been given one of these, but I enjoy following your blog and have chosen it for the “One Lovely Blog Award.” You may pick up your award @ http://ponderdeeply.blogspot.com/2011/02/impact-of-tiny-impression.html

    Loving it :~)
    Kathy

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  5. Hi Kim! So nice to hear from a fellow writer who also has a book coming out soon...that helps to know that I'm not alone. Yes, perhaps the strength to finish this book lies in this post I've just written. I've never thought of it that way. I will do it. And you are right...it is exciting, thrilling, and scary all at the same time!

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  6. Kerry-Your words are what I need right now! And yes...this little thing at the end is called FAITH! You are right! Thank you!

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  7. Thanks Caroline for you kind words. I often forget there are things behind the surface that we can't see. That anything we do is not completely done by ourselves....it's an energy or a force that we can't always see and never know what kind of impact it will have. I'm ready to "walk like an Egyptian!" like you say!
    Peace to you, Katherine

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  8. M Kathy Brown-Why thank you for the lovely blog award. I could use a lovely award today ^_^! I will check it out on your blog and thank you for reading. Much peace to you!

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  9. Katherine,
    I will keep my eye on you too, and wait for your book to come out. Best of luck!
    Kim

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  10. Thanks Kim...looking forward to yours too!

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  11. Best Wishes,

    I know you can do this. You made it to the end of your 365 posts, this is a different challenge but one I am confident you are equal to.

    Kind Regards
    Belinda

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  12. I know exactly what you're talking about! It's one of my issues; and I spent my entire childhood of watching my dad never actually finish a project. Sometimes I think it is a kind of fear of letting go. When you get used to some project, or get completely immersed in it, for a short time it becomes part of your identity and there is a fear of "what comes next?".

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  13. Belinda-Yes, it is true. Sometimes we don't know our own strength...fear tries to step in front of it, but that's part of the whole package and eventually we get through it if we keep going! ^_^ Thanks for leaving a comment...it is sooo helpful!

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  14. Hi Maya-Yes, a fear of letting go and more so for me, a fear of how what I write will be perceived. It is a very intimate book. Intimate in the sense that it is a true story and my life story and it's a little scary to put it out there, but I know many people will get something from it, so I'm going to let it fly....as soon as I can get over this fear thing....^_^! Thanks for your comment!!!

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  15. When I was teaching writing I came across this "A poem is never finished, it's only abandoned." by Paul Valery.

    True of any work of art, especially writing, I believe, as it's as hard to let go of a project as it is of a growing child. What's that Gibran quote? You are the bow, setting the arrow off into the world.

    Best of luck,

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  16. Laurie-So interesting that you use "a child" as an analogy here because I seriously feel like I'm about to give birth, even though I've never had this experience. I'm in my office about to send my child off into the world....only three more days of working on it. And I love that quote about poetry...so true about books too...perhaps that's why there are sequels! Yes, I'll have to look up Gibran too....about to release my arrow....here I go....look out! ^_^! Thanks for sharing your thoughts...they are so spot on!

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  17. I know you'll finish and it will be great, Kathy.

    Your blog post reminded me of a quote from a Tom Hanks movie, "A League of Their Own". Geena Davis' character tells Tom Hanks' character that she doesn't want to compete in the Women's Baseball World Series because "It just got too hard". Tom Hanks responds "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would be doin' it. The hard...is what makes it great!"

    Not everyone can write a book. If it was easy we'd all be doing it. It's a unique gift that you have and I'm sure you'll press on and complete it. Just remember...the hard is what makes it great! I can't wait to read the finished product.

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  18. Katherine,

    Thanks for writing about this--I know about it, too, from writing educational articles, from composing music, to projects around the house.

    But I had a thought with your final paragraph. Just thinking I'd rather be on the back of the bull if I'm going to grab it's horns--!!

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  19. Steve-Thanks so much for reading! And yes, it would be good to be riding that bull, if I plan to take it by the horns....otherwise...well. Nice to see you here and thanks so much for your comment!

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  20. Sister-Thanks for leaving a comment on this here blog...I'm going to remember that Tom Hanks quote! Yes, it's hard, but i know it's soo worth it! I feel that and I'm going to finish it...thanks for leaving a comment..it means so much to me coming from my dear sister!

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  21. I just found your blog today and your words totally resonate with me. I have been trying to learn Korean and get healthier and I've been doing great. Until now. Exercise? Ugh! Do my Korean lessons? No time for that! Time is slipping through my fingers and I know I will be mad at myself if I give in to this. Thanks for being a gentle shove in the right direction!

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  22. Neela-Wow! Are you in Korea?? Enjoy! I remember when I used to study Korean..I was always late finishing my homework...ha! Not much has changed! And exercise, well....I say, just get out the door and you are doing great. Just show up. That's what's worked for me. Thanks for commenting. Gamsamnida! Hope you enjoy Korea!

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  23. Katherine,
    You're almost there! And my bookclub and I can't WAIT to read your book! We have already talked about it. So - you go girl!! Your blog is such a blessing, and your book will be too, more than you know.

    Jennifer

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  24. I'm not in Korea, but I hope to go some day. I love so much about the culture and the more I learn, the more I want to learn. I think it's so awesome that you spent so much time in Asia. I hope to get to know you more through your blog.

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  25. Jennifer-That's wonderful that your book club wants to read my book...what an honor! Although you'll have to wait until March 2012! That's when it will be published. My book is due to the publisher tomorrow...Yikes....still have a bit more to do! Better get crackin'! Thanks for reading!

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  26. Neela-Korea is wonderful! I spent over 10 years there! You'll love it if you ever go. Especially since you are so interested in Korean culture and pop culture! Thanks for reading!

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  27. I know the feeling you are describing, and most of the time my own fears and insecurities try to get in the way, but rarely win. I believe it will be the same for you. Good luck as you cross the finish line!

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  28. Thank you so much spirit that moves me...I just crossed the finish line....still copy editing to do, but the book is done! Thanks for the good luck wishes and I agree with you, fear often tries to get in the way, but it never succeeds if we have the will to.

    Peace to you,
    Katherine

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  29. I am not very good at finishing something. How can I improve?

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  30. Katherine, Congratulations. It's called fear of being judged. If you've written a great memoir you are standing there naked and exposed. But given all that you have happening here on your blog, I have no doubt that you are ready for whatever the world sees. You are ready to be the heroine of your own book. A thoughtful blog a day is an inspiration for us all.

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  31. Yes Carolyn...that is definitely a BIG part of it. I already feel, since I've finished the book, that I'm completely naked...but there's no going back now and I have so much to say. So..off I go..thanks for the helpful comments.

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