This is post 101, which means it’s time to pause for some reader appreciation. Without you, Being Finite would never have reached a milestone worthy of a Disney movie title.
A friend said we’re never so happy as when we’re accomplishing something that’s meaningful to us, even if the something is standing still and enjoying a tree whose leaves are bursting forth after a long winter.
It’s often hard for me to remember this at the beginning, though, whether I’m staring at the blank page or trying to convince myself to roll out of bed to exercise in the morning. Even if I will likely enjoy the activity—or the results of the activity—my mental inertia wins. I feel confident I could place in the top five if anyone ever held a mental inertia contest.
Most of the time, other people help with this. If I’m meeting a friend to run, my odds of actually putting on my shoes increase a hundred fold—if that’s a number odds can increase by.
And many Tuesday nights, I sit down in front of the computer, lock the cat out of the room, and ignore his destruction of the door because by some miracle, you all have been kind enough to let me know that these musings are helpful to you. You’ve given me an astonishing gift.
I know some of you but not others. Some of us are alike, and some of us couldn’t be more different; yet we share enough of being human that a few words about life’s ups and downs can connect us. Miracle indeed. Thank you for reading, for liking, for commenting, for expecting me to show up, and for sticking with me.
This particular entry was finished early Wednesday morning, and a tree full of songbirds greeted me as I opened my laptop. They were surely singing for you.
If authors did risk assessments, no one would ever begin a book. I’ve been working on a new novel for a little while and have only pieces of the world my characters inhabit, pieces that may never coalesce into a whole. I could spend five years writing this story and still not discover the crucial turn in the plot.
Considering how little faith I often have in simple things, this uncertainty should unhinge me. For example, I will check and double-check all the letters in a mail merge, as if the name field goblin might infiltrate Microsoft Word and match Joe’s address with Sally’s salutation. Given that impressive paranoia, I have a surprising amount of faith in this emerging novel, even though it still refuses to let me get too structured about things—no outlining allowed.
Established relationships are more comfortable, more familiar. In my already completed novel, I know the characters and the terrain—both emotional and geographical—intimately. I’m fond of the people and the place.
But this void of beginning offers a paradoxical peacefulness. There is nothing to do but wait for the novel to reveal itself. The usual poking and prodding and futurizing I engage in with the other aspects of my life will only shut the door this book-to-be is entering through.
Maybe all beginnings have this openness to them only we don’t realize it. We are too focused on getting to where we think whatever it is—our life, our relationship, our dinner—should go. We hardly even realize we’re participating in the creation of something new because we’re so focused on the completion of it.
It might help to watch more parts of my life unfold like unwritten novels that I can’t force ahead of where they are. It would help with the fretting.