How many times in life do we set out to do something and never actually finish it? How many New Year’s Resolutions fall by the wayside? For Catholics, how many Lenten fasts are broken? How many promises are never kept? How many trips are never taken? How many friendships drift apart? How many words are left unspoken?
How often do we just give up on our ambitions? It happens a lot. There’s even that old saying: “If what-ifs and could-bes were…” something. Crap, I can’t remember it right now.
My point, at any rate, is that it’s rare for us to actually follow through on things. Granted it does happen, but not as often as I’m sure we would collectively like. Now here’s the part where you’re expecting some deep, philosophical observation on my part. Well, you’re S.O.L. because I’ve practically made a career out of not following through.
I’ve only ever followed through on two things in my life: My relationship with my wife, and sandwiches (and even then I’ll sometimes grow bored or impatient and just shovel the peanut butter directly into my gullet).
But now, I can add a third thing to my list: I’ve followed through on my writing.
See, I’ve been writing for years now. A veritable cornucopia of stories and ideas have poured out of my brain and unto paper over the course of my life. There is one consistency to everything I write, though, and that’s that I never finish. I have more unfinished stories lying around than some kids probably have trading cards.
Why, you might ask? Well, in the past I’ve never had anything motivating me to finish. I only ever wrote just because. There was no point or endgame to any of it. It’s just something I’ve always done. I breathe, I blink, and I write. It just happens. I never actually purposed myself to become a “writer” up until a few years ago, and so before that I never had an agenda. I would write half-way through a story and move on to something else. I would almost finish something and then give up when it came time to tie everything together. I would create characters and lands and forms of government and then never actually start a story.
Now, though, things are different. Now I’m a “writer”. I have a goal of becoming an “author”. I’m actively pursuing getting published.
The difference is that now…I’m driven. And that drive, that newfound incentive could be what has pushed me to, for the very first time, finish something I’ve written. And I’m proud to say that I’ve done just that.
Over this past weekend, I finished the first draft of a short story entitled The King is Fallen. It has been sent off to (and as of writing this entry, returned to me by) my alpha readers. I now head into the first round of edits and revisions before sending it off to my beta readers, and then more revisions, and then my gamma readers, and so on and so forth. Interestingly enough, since this is only the first thing I’ve ever completed, this is also the first time I’ve ever gone through the revision process. I find I enjoy it, strangely enough.
My intent is to have the final draft completed by mid-October, after which I plan to send it off to the Writers of the Future Contest, the results of which could very well help me determine whether or not this wild venture of mine is even worth it. We shall see either way.
For today, though, I’m simply going to bask in the victory of finishing a draft of something. Whether or not it’s any good is another battle for another day.