Squinting To See The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Other than university assignments, a dribble of poems submitted to online venues, and a handful of stories written for another (member’s only) online venue, I have never finished an honest to goodness writing project. For more than three years now I’ve been toying with the idea of publishing a collection of my poems and nonfiction pieces. Back in 2012 I actually got close to pulling off a self-pub. Close.

The cover art was easy. The title easier. The compilation? Notsomuch. Therein lies my yet insurmountable obstacle. I envision a crisp chronological order that I cannot achieve.

Back in September I stumbled over a potentially perfect home for this incomplete collection of mine and vowed to work on it diligently to make the deadline. The deadline is February 28. Today is February 12, and I am nine pages short on content. I haven’t even attempted a Table of Contents or Acknowledgments page.

Twenty-five poems, thus far, and five creative nonfiction/memoir pieces… and I’m nine pages short! Over the past two days I have done some fairly spectacular editing and revision of older work. This morning, I lopped more than 500 words off one of my best and I think it’s now amazing. I’ve patted myself on the back and done a little happy dance for that.

The potentially perfect home for my collection offers a modest cash prize and printed copies of the winner’s submission, but that’s not really the true prize. The true prize, if I do this freakin’ thing is the knowledge that I actually FINISHED SOMETHING. That I actually finished THE THING!

Moments after I spun my last spin in that happy dance, I realized something. It’s painfully disappointing to admit, but I have developed a terrible habit. For school writing assignments I would do research for weeks, take notes and type out stingy, disconnected paragraphs for weeks. Then I would do everything but write the final draft for weeks—power wash the porch, plant flowers, shop for flowers to plant, reorganize my bookshelf, watch crappy reality TV shows that I never used to waste time on, do online searches for Christmas gifts in June …

Then! Two days before deadline, I would start on my final draft.

This is a terrible habit that was often awarded several A+ grades. And, it is apparently ingrained in my DNA. Or something.

As negative as this reality is, I taste optimism in the air. I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am going to finish.

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