Sunday, September 03, 2006

To Finish or Not to Finish

By Pamela S. Thibodeaux © 2000 Revised 2004

God is the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Every time I've heard that particular phrase (and I've heard it often), it has struck a chord in my soul and mind. What, exactly, is in this message? Is there a deeper meaning meant for writers?

I have heard many would-be authors make the remark that they have "several" books in the works. My question to them would be: How many have you finished?"Why?" You ask. In all of the research I've done, and everyone I've talked to, the most important piece of advice I've ever heard I now relate to you: "Finish the story!"

I've been writing for more than twenty years and I have only one unfinished novel lying around. It is the last in what started out as a 4-book series (each approx 70,000 words) but has evolved into 5. I wrote the first book between July and November of 1996, the second in the first six months of 1997. In the fall of 1997 I began writing the last two. As you may well guess, one of the stories "took off.” I finished it then subsequently completed book 4.

Book 5 has recently come to mind and although I’ve outlined the idea, I’ve yet to really sit down and work on it. I've been too busy querying, submitting, revising, writing, reading, researching, promoting, etc., etc., to work on it. I also have two other books (approx 70,000 words each), a novel (approx 100,000 words), several short stories and articles completed since I began writing in five-subject notebooks more than twenty years ago.

I possess a host of ideas for other stories just waiting to be developed. Alas, like many of you, I write in my "spare" time and can only do so much. The point is, most of everything I've ever started is COMPLETED and just waiting to be “polished.”

How will you know that you are a writer, if you never finish anything? You will never experience that special sense of accomplishment that comes with putting "The End" on something you've poured your heart, soul, and emotions into for weeks, months, or years on end, UNLESS you finish your book. (short story, article, poem, or whatever).

Your story (in whatever form) must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Many writers never get to the middle or the end because they're too hung up on "perfecting" the beginning. What a loss! You don't get the honor of KNOWING what happens to your characters! You may have an idea of how you want your story to develop, but, if your characters are like mine (and almost everyone else's) THEY are going to live, breathe, take over your story and make it THEIRS. After all, it is their life!

I have had a perfectly planned story and WHAM! the characters take over and say "NO we're going to do it this (or that) way." In one of my stories, I wanted to change the name of one of the main characters. No such deal. He is who he is. And the story is better for it. I've watched him grow and mature and turn out to be a real HUNK of a man! That never would have happened if I hadn't FINISHED the book.

Don't worry if it's not good, publishable, or even legible. JUST GET IT DONE! Unless you are one of the blessed professionals who get everything right the first time out and NEVER have to rewrite a single word, believe me, you will have plenty of time to revise, rewrite, polish, or whatever. There are many merits and rewards in terms of confidence, experience, and self-esteem when you FINISH a project. I believe it's what changes your perspective of yourself (for me anyway) from a wannabe writer to an author.

Minister (author, teacher and conference host) Joyce Meyer has a book called Battlefield of the Mind. In it she lists several "wilderness mentalities" that kept the Israelites (and people today) from entering into the Promised Land (blessings of God). One of those listed was fear. Another was procrastination (which is rooted in fear). Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of getting to "the end" and not having any more stories in you. You name it and every writer who has ever (or never) been published, will tell you that they experience it at one time or another. Many will tell you (yes, even published authors) that they face fear every time they sit down and look at that blank screen.

However, you cannot OVERCOME, if you don't STEP OUT on FAITH and FINISH what God has put in you! Do what ever it takes to get it finished. Make goals and strive to reach them. Be careful not to set unreachable or unreasonable goals, but set something in your mind to finish. I believe writing is a talent given to us from God. The Bible says that God is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Isn't it only sensible that we finish what we start? Otherwise we may never know the true joy of being an Author!

Pamela S. Thibodeaux is a member and co-founder of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. A multi-published author in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” Email: pthib-7@centurytel.net Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com

2 comments:

G-Man said...

I've been at an impasse on my literary novel *Out of Kentucky* for a couple of months now. I don't want a happy ending, but the male and female protagonists are meant for each other. I can't stop them. To do so is to not tell the story the way the characters and events unfold. I just feel like it is a predictable resolution. I've carried on an internal debate for several weeks now. Your challenging article really helped me clear my head and focus. And now I know what I have to do. I have to tell the story!

G-Man said...

I've been at an impasse on my literary novel *Out of Kentucky* for a couple of months now. I don't want a happy ending but the male and female protagonists are meant for each other. I can't stop them. I've tried and it seems superficial. And to do so is to not tell the story the way the characters and events unfold. I just feel like it is a predictable resolution. I've carried on an internal debate for several weeks now. Your challenging article really helped clear my head and focus. And now I know what I have to do. Thank you!!