blog Journal meta Writing

Finishing Things

I have wanted to tell stories since I was a little kid. I might even still have a comic book I wrote and (terribly) illustrated about a literal rock star astronaut. My sister and I did a few strips of a heavily Calvin and Hobbes inspired comic called Space Chief. I remember running around in my backyard with an Olympus camera, burning 35mm film in an effort to capture miniature scenes which reminded me of Jurassic Park.

Finishing a story was a lot harder.

My hard drive and notebooks were littered with stalled stories, many of which were vaguely inspired by movies I had recently seen. A clumsy effort to merge Blade style vampires with Merlin-esque immortals. A dark, violent, sexy as a 17 year old virgin could imagine cyberpunk story which basically mashed up /Final Fantasy/ and Neuromancer. There were also three or four failed efforts at creating interactive stories, with hand-coded QBASIC adventures vaguely inspired by Riven (I have only completed Myst once, and that was while helping my son play through it last year.)

The thing that finally cracked my writer’s block was, ironically, another failed project. On my first wedding anniversary I spent two weeks in France. It felt like such a momentous occasion that I needed to journal about it. That journal eventually faltered, in part because I was frustrated that I was the only one journaling when I thought that we had both agreed to record our perspectives, but I kept a detailed log of more than half of the vacation. That failed effort proved to me that I could actually produce hundreds or even thousands of words a day with little effort.

A couple years later I managed to finish The Staff of Moses.

It wasn’t a stunning work of literary genius, but it told an adventure tale that I wanted to read. I’ve since revised it a couple times and written four sequels. After re-reading them all over the last few months in preparation for new editions, I can say that I am proud of those stories. They aren’t perfect, but they are fun. They also served a sort of therapy, giving me something creative to focus on during a time when I was struggling with a very difficult job and a marriage that, in retrospect, had become very one-sided.

And I finished them.

That’s the key. After years of struggling and failing, I managed to finish n to one, but eight novels.

People can argue about the value of self publishing and the quality of the work which is produced, and Amazon has certainly made a of money off of the thousands of failed indie writers who sell a couple dozen copies of poorly edited books, but whatever we say from a business perspective there is a therapeutic element to finishing a book.

Even this post was a struggle. I have spent twice as long on it than I intended to and been distracted from writing it several times, but I stuck to it and finished.

Because finishing the project is important.