In Jack Canfield’s (of Chicken Soup fame) The Success Principles he discusses the difference between finishing and completing. *Yes, I read self-help books occasionally. Quiet.
The argument goes something like this: finishing something is not the same as completing it. Basically, you can finish a novel and put all the words on paper and print it out and type The End. But is it complete? Has it been polished? Are all the kinks worked out?
You can have a stack of finished novels, but only one that’s complete will do you any kind of good.
I was thinking about stacks of ‘finished’ work recently. I pored through my computer files and looked at short stories that I considered finished. I debated within myself which ones I should call complete. Only two. Two out of a whole lot–and those were just the ones on my computer. The rest could definitely use some polish, others could use a jackhammer, some we should just ignore forever.
I also have two novels that are ‘finished’ and my third is in-progress-to-finished. The first one that I wrote is questionable at ‘finished’ even. The second one I am tired of looking at, though I know the solution for completing that one. The third one will need some close work for it to come off the way I want it to.
So here I am, a writer who is writing (see Progress post). But my work isn’t done. I haven’t been completing things. There isn’t much there over-all. (Trust me when I say it stings to write that…after having written sooooo much, learning that there’s not one big project complete is rather a downer.)
In the spirit of completion, I have determined my goals for the rest of 2010 and leading into 2011. First off, 2010: finish what I’m currently working on because that’ll get me ahead for CWC submissions. Being ahead of CWC submissions buys me time to complete my not-yet-completed projects. Including heavy revisions of short stories.
2011: Complete the pieces I finished in 2010. Including: FJR, La Llorona, and The Line. In that order.
Is there anything that you need to complete?
Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.