July 29, 2021

Starting work that you’re proud to finish


You don’t actually learn anything in college, it just shows you can complete something.

That’s far more significant and respected and attractive than the yawnable ability to solve equations and memorize dates and regurgitate an ocean of information about eighteenth century romantic poetry.

After all, we live in a world that rewards finishing. Following through. Fully and faithfully realizing the execution of a difficult, expensive, exhausting and long term endeavor, however imperfect that journey might have been.

And yet, most people don’t finish things. Their creative landscapes are littered with the false starts. Grandiose but abandoned projects that have since calcified into monuments of their momentary bursts of enthusiasm.

Miller’s advice to young novelists comes to mind. Rule number six was:

Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.

Meaning, focus on finding the right foundation. Better to produce a small handful of solid ideas than to promise a hundred shaky ones.

Also meaning, don’t get mired in the manure. If most people calculated the number of hours they spent avoiding the work in favor of disappearing down the rabbit hole of their own mental horseshit, they wouldn’t be able to look themselves in the mirror.

There’s actually an obscure term in the dictionary for this very archetype. A finifugal is a person who hates endings and tries to avoid or prolong the final moment of a story, relationship or some other journey.

Not that everything in this life has to be finished. Some projects are meant to be abandoned. Some journeys shouldn’t come to an end.

But if we have any intention of changing the world and ratcheting up our species, we ought to err on the of completion.

We ought to show people, especially ourselves, that we can complete something.

Are you abandoning projects that are too familiar in order to experience the initial high that came at the beginning?