Monthly Column – April


To Finish or Not? Is it REALLY an Option?

By Pamela Thibodeaux

“God is the Author and Finisher of our faith”.

Every time I’ve heard that particular phrase (and I’ve heard it often lately), 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 several 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 seventeen years and I have only one unfinished novel lying around. It is the last in a four-book series (each approx 70,000 words). I wrote the first book of the series 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” and I finished it.

The last book (the one still lying around) is about half finished. However, I’ve been too busy querying, submitting, revising, (writing, reading, researching) entering contests, etc., etc., etc., to get it complete. I also have another book (approx 60,000 words), a novel (approx 100,000 words), and four short stories (three of which have recently been submitted to an E-Zine) since I began writing (in five-subject notebooks) seventeen 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”.

No, I’m not published yet, but I’m still writing! 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 gets everything right the first time out and NEVER has 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 unpublished 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 can not 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.

For example, my goals for the FIRST MONTH of the new year were to: (1) Write (or rewrite at least three synopsis’ and submit them for the CDL contest. (2) Polish and submit the three short stories to the E-Zine. (3) Write this article. Due to work demands, it took until today (2/11/00) to reach all three goals. But I’ve done it!

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!

PS: Since the initial publication of this article in Feb 2000, I have finished that novel, one of the short stories submitted to the Ezine has been published (a total of 5 were accepted) and the first of the four book series has been published! A lot accomplished in one short year!

So come on! Finish that work and get it out there! God is faithful. If He’ll do it for me, He’ll do it for you! :)

If you would like to have your own monthly column at Author Network, email: beth@author-network.com

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