Does anyone else have a problem with finishing things? I do. When we moved into this house two and a half years ago, I stripped about 1/3 of the paint off the staircase, then stopped. It is currently a horrible eyesore that we've all grown used to. Around the same time, I started knitting JR a sweater, grew nervous when I realized I was unsure how to do the collar, then put it aside, on top of a pile of other partially-finished knitting projects.
But of course this is really about writing. I'm not going to list all the unfinished stories and even novels I have lying around my office. What gives? Really, what gives???
For a long time I thought there was some mysterious thing going on, a non-finishing neurosis. What does "finishing" symbolize, Dr. Freud? Well, death! But also sex, which kind of cancels out death.
JR thinks it's about fear of failure. Probably. It's so much nicer to keep everything in a state of potentiality -- I'd rather think, "I'm knitting JR a sweater!" than "I spent two years knitting a sweater and now he won't wear it because of that bad collar." And I guess I'd rather have my characters suspended in their intriguing situations than have them march out some plot toward a necessarily limited denouement. Right now, my unfinished novels can mean anything, and anything could happen! There's something really pleasurable about it.
Of course, something really stupid and juvenile, too. A friend told me yesterday, in the nicest possible way, that I'm not very ambitious. I would never have thought that, but it's true. It takes wanting something more than the pleasure of potentiality to get things done, to get past the fear of disappointment and actually accomplish things.
So, resolution number one for 2010: be more ambitious. Got a good start: I finished the sweater. It took about twenty minutes, and the collar looks fine.