This week I’m thrilled to feature a guest post on writing by friend and fellow author, Diana Kirk. She is the author of Licking Flames: Tales of a Half-Assed Hussy. Her smart, thought-provoking essays can be found in Nailed, Thought Catalog, and Five 2 One Lit Mag. She lives on the coast of Oregon with her husband and three boys where she trades real estate and stories at tiny coffee shops.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Finishing. The word itself and the act itself. To finish means you need to start and in between you need to work hard and persevere. Persevere is a word I’m thinking of tattooing on my wrist, but I’m also considering simply writing “Finished.”
Because I love projects that are finished projects. The feeling of completion is so satisfying to me that if it’s a success almost doesn’t matter. Every trip I’ve taken abroad has been a project, every business I’ve started, a project, my marriage, my kids, my writing…all projects with outcomes. Some obviously not so definable as raising a human and whether they are successful. I think if my kids are confident and laugh at themselves heartily, they will be successful adults. But when are you finished? I don’t know. I’m in the work hard and persevere section of parenting these days.
Children’s writer Margaret Dilloway shared a post this week on Facebook stating Meyers Briggs personality tests are bunk. My letters describe me to perfection. An ENTP is The Visionary, extraverted intuition with introverted thinking.
“ENTPs are fluent conversationalists, mentally quick, and enjoy verbal sparring with others. They love to debate issues, and may even switch sides sometimes just for the love of the debate. When they express their underlying principles, however, they may feel awkward and speak abruptly and intensely.”
The article might be correct about Meyers Briggs being bunk because The Visionary is not known for finishing. The Visionary is known for having ideas. Triangulating information into possibilities. My friends and family have all received these late-night texts from me…
“We should buy a sailboat to share. We’ll sail to the tip of Baja, you sail back.”
I can only imagine my cousin sitting on her couch, watching a vampire show and rolling her eyes at my weird texts rolling through.
Visionaries are not known for finishing. They’re delegators, they’re farmers planting their ideas in the minds of different people to see if they’ll sprout up or become something interesting. They’re not ones to finish a thing.
I have a lot more ideas than I actually follow through on. I guess you’d say that’s not finishing. I once started a business grey importing RVs to Canada. I only did it once then bailed from stress. I had a knitting business, I used to sell soup at campgrounds to American Snowbirds in Mexico, I’ve brokered real estate deals for percentages, pitched movie scripts to agents, tour guided through Detroit. I simply like doing stuff, trying to do stuff. Finding the interesting quadrants in life.
Which is why I’ve been thinking about the word Finished this week. The more I look at books from an author standpoint, after formatting a manuscript, editing, book covers, distribution, publicity…I see that really, a book Is a lot about finishing. It’s not always about the best writing, or the best cover or the best anything. It’s about finishing a damn project from inception to completion.
This entire idea came to me from a question posted on a writer’s forum I follow. A woman asked the question about writing her mother or her family in a memoir. How would they take it? How do writers do this? I wanted to answer her but I just couldn’t because what I’ve seen is that if you worry so early on in your project, whatever it is, if you worry about your friends and family, you’ll never finish a thing. Because after you write that beautiful piece you’re so proud of, you’ll submit it to reviewers and one of them will take offense. Then your editors will argue about the validity of a different part. Whether it should be put in your book. Then one of your reviewers for this golden book will not understand your book. They’ll tell you to rewrite sections you don’t want to re-write. Then publicists will take your finished book and twist it into something you don’t feel deep in your guts. But maybe you actually are the person they’re pitching. You tell yourself it’s just a part of who you are. They’ll sell you as something more interesting than you feel. Then strangers will read your book and some of them will not understand your chapter two. They’ll tweet about it and you’ll just sit there with a vodka tonic…not really worrying about your mom anymore. By the end, you’ll just need a mom.
So maybe “Finished” is a heavily undervalued and yet beautiful word. I’m obviously not finished with life so perhaps tattooing it onto my wrist isn’t the best idea but maybe…it is. Because the word isn’t weighed down with a numerical scale of success, it isn’t populated on Twitter, it doesn’t reek with anxiety. If you did the stuffs and you never gave up, and there’s a set moment in time of finishing, then you’ve succeeded. Maybe finished means success. Maybe it should be the sexiest word ever. If anything, it’s definitely a check mark in that life resume.
I finished a book.
© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2017