April 1, 2020

The Art of Finishing

• By John F. Chisholm •

These last two months I’ve been obsessing, completing a novel.

Bear with me.  I need to analyze exactly what I’m saying.  I mean every word.

Obsessing; I’ve met the definition.  This book has filled my days with plots, machinations and interrelations.  At night it’s filled my dreams.  I’ve neglected other duties, responsibilities and obligations in order to finish it.

That’s all true.  But beyond even that, this effort has been undeniable ― in all senses of that word, too.  Given that, perhaps ‘Obsessing’ is an understatement.

That’s not all:  I don’t know that it’s done, even now.

Because, of course, ‘completing’ is the other operative word in my opening sentence.

Completion is a strange commodity, especially with a novel.

Consider, I was convinced this particular book was finished a year ago and almost two hundred pages back.

It’s true.  Then a literary agent convinced me to expand it.  He assured me, it needed to grow.

I gave myself the deadline.  That was smart but demanding.  Never mind.  I had to demonstrate, both to myself and this agent that I was to be taken seriously.  I’m going to deliver, too.  Believe that.

Because this novel is now completed.  Again.  I just don’t know if it’s for the last time.

Strange, isn’t it?  The ending changes, unavoidably as the book expands.  Characters evolve, move and begin anew.  Events occur.  Time passes.  But the point remains:  Once a book finishes ― differently ― for the second time it’s clear it that could well be ‘finishing’ ― differently ― for a third or even a fourth time before it’s finally ‘done’.  Conceivably, there could be even more endings than that.  In fact, being blunt, when is finishing finished?

If ever.

How very odd.

It gives us hope for ourselves, for each of us though, doesn’t it?

Because I changed, changing this book.  It’s true.  I proved to myself and anyone interested, not only that I can alter a story, meet a requirement and expand a novel but that I can do it well, on schedule and ahead of expectations.

That’s right.

I like this new story better.

On top of that, I enjoy growing, learning, expanding my abilities, too.  It’s clear this work accomplished at least that much.

Stranger and stranger.

Those facts, in turn, will give me a new ending, too.

All because these last two months, I’ve been obsessing, completing a novel.