“The race is not always to the swift but to those who keep on running.” Author Unknown
What comfort and relief flow from these words as I read them! They seem written just for me. With family and friends’ events, a pesky summer cold, and an intense short-term project all coming at me, I’ve had a tough time getting back into my writing rhythm. As a result, my children’s novel has been languishing. My final revisions have been limping along, sputtering and faltering.
Now all these explanations about why I’ve hit a slow patch are probably just excuses if I’m honest with myself about it. We writers love stories don’t we? And if a “why” is needed for something that’s happened, especially a troubling or tricky situation, I know I’m quick to summon up a story to explain it all. That’s one thing we do as writers: We make sense of things, one way or another. Rational thought or invention – either one will do.
But here’s the rub: Finishing a big project is rarely easy.
First, I’ve found that the rhythm of finishing is different from the rhythm of beginning. As a project winds to a close, it winds down like a watch. It slows its pace and as writers, our expectations have to shift in synch with this reality. We simply have to go with the flow.
Second, there are the hidden anxieties that attend finishing. How will I know when it’s done? Is there more I can do to make my manuscript stronger, better, more appealing to readers and gatekeepers? Can I shift from storytelling to submission strategy?
And finally, there’s the glaring fact that once I’m officially finished, I have to step my story out into the world – again. It’s already a bit bruised and battered from this submission process. Right now, I’m still in the Land of Possibilities – I’m holding my story close and protecting it. Anything can happen, anything is possible. Once I step it out, there’s another story waiting – one that’s going to be written by other people who will be evaluating it and taking its measure.
Yes, finishing is tough, but it’s doable. So, fast or slow, falter or flow, let’s keep running and all write on!