Getting Closer

I admire people who complete projects. Completion is much harder than it appears from the outside. This is coming from someone who had to learn how to finish, one tentative step at a time. Later, I learned how to combine these steps and began hitting some major deadlines. Reaching and crossing the finish line, while never easy, is now something that happens regularly for me.

Books are tools that I think more people should commit to writing. If you are someone who is a thought leader, or who has some ideas that others have demonstrated an interest in, then you are a prime candidate for authoring a book. I’ve indicated that books are much better than business cards—everyone has a business card—not many people have a book. Commit to getting yourself into the latter category.  It’s empowering for one thing. It’s also another way to differentiate what you do from everyone else doing similar things.

My own path to publishing my fourth book has been an adventure. It really began about three years ago when I began working on some essays. I love essays. They lend themselves well to my own brand of personal nonfiction, writing that’s rooted in people and place. I read a book review in the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Audience section on Sunday by Joan Silverman. She wrote that essays are “like envelopes that can hold whatever a writer may choose to convey.” I really liked her definition.

As I’ve been writing and collecting essays over a period of time, some have managed to make the cut. Now they are in the final editing stage and will be the ones included in Seven: Essays and Stories, Volume I.

The editing process.

The editing process.

While the collection was taking shape, there was a hole that none of my previously written essays seemed to fill. This led me to tackling two additional essays; one is based on a long journey back to my past. That one is now complete. I’ve been wavering on the theme of my seventh and final essay. I thought I wanted to tackle some ideas I had about growing up in Lisbon Falls. As I was working my way through this narrative, I got stuck and it really began to feel like I was forcing something for the sake of completion. I’ve had to take a step back. Now I’m torn between two stories I want to tell. Both are personal, so they’ll fit just fine. I guess it comes down to which theme is more important for me to talk about right now.

Deadlines are important. So is finishing a project. Even more important for me is having a collection of essays that I’ll look back on, knowing I took the time to create the collection that I wanted, instead of just throwing seven pieces together just to add another book to my bibliography. I want to make sure that I have all seven of the right pieces in my envelope before sending it out.

3 thoughts on “Getting Closer

  1. JIm,
    That’s exciting! A new book. I think what is interesting about completing any project is the tendency to underestimate how long it might take to deliver a good product. I hope you’ll talk more about setting deadlines and adjusting schedules.

    • Yes, the underestimation factor on projects is huge. Reflecting on Saint Helen of Immaculata’s adage of “haste makes waste,” also.

  2. M: How does the conditioning that happens in schools bring about this state of
    addiction, and boredom, and dependency?

    J: You want to get really practical? How is this? You’re not allowed to finish
    anything you start. How often do you have to break the natural sequence of
    completing a job before starting a new job? These are internal mechanisms of
    schooling. They weren’t thought up by teachers, principals, the superintendents.
    These strategies have been refined throughout human history as devices that
    produce certain behavioral results. The overkill part we can’t afford much longer
    is doing it for 12 years. You don’t have to do it for 12 years. But they wanted to
    make sure that there was no chance that this conditioning, boredom and
    addiction wouldn’t stick.

    From an interview of John Taylor Gatto.

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