(I recently shared this post on Trail Baboon, a fine community of bloggers.)
I’ve had it! Enough is enough! I can’t change one more word!
While working on the final draft of my suspense novel, Castle Danger, those thoughts built up over the past few weeks until I reached a breaking point. It’s time to let go and send it to the proofreader, and, ultimately, the printer.
There comes a time during every creative process when the creator must pronounce his work “finished.” A painter finishes a painting; a sculptor chips off the last piece of marble and sands it down; a composer inks in the final note on the score. Then the artist lets go, releasing his creation to the world for its consumption and subsequent pleasure, displeasure, or indifference.
So I’m now at the letting go stage. I realized I could change a word here, switch sentences there, and intensify an expression in a third place. but to keep doing so is a sign of fear, doubt, and uncertainty. Is the story good enough? Will anyone buy the book? If so, will they like it? And by extension, will I feel validated for spending several years of my life creating something from nothing?
I’m glad I waited until this point, though. To have deemed Castle Danger to be finished any earlier would have left me with nagging doubts about whether I gave it my best shot. Now I am confident I gave it my best shot. I can face whatever comes in the way of “success,” positive/negative reviews, and feeling good about myself. I feel good about myself right now, and the novel’s success or failure won’t change that.
If it bombs, I’ll be disappointed, but hey folks, I wrote a damn novButel! Not the most earth-shattering achievement, but at least, I didn’t sit around for the rest of my life and talk about writing a novel. Seriously, I’m proud of having gotten to the point of completing a monumental project (for me). It’s something I never imagined myself doing this late in life.
For a Neo-Renaissance practitioner like me, new experiences are always good, but seeing a project through to completion is just as important as trying the new activity.
My question: when have you finally let go of a project or creation, and what brought you to that decision?
Your “letting go” has to do with letting something be finished; mine had to do with letting something go unfinished. I did the first four years of my Ph.D. and stopped short of dissertation completion – a decision everyone told me I would regret but have yet to do so. My heart was never in the project, and I knew it – as I worked it, my personal training business was developing and thriving in a way I’d never anticipated, and I could feel my allegiances shifting away from the dry, lifeless paper and toward the joyful, rewarding experience of helping people change their lives. I was finally able to admit to myself – and harder, my faculty advisor! – that I had to let it go, and I will still remember that day as one of the lowest lows (tears were involved) and highest highs (like a ton of bricks off my chest the second I signed the form to leave). Everything happens for a reason – I truly believe that – and sometimes to move forward you have to cut the ties to what is holding you back.
What a heartfelt story, Amanda. I get the sense that you followed your heart and so far, from what I see and know, you made the right decision. Thanks for sharing.