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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Eliot

Finish and Then Start

Hi friends!

Not gonna lie, it's been a bit of a slog for the past month. I've been writing in fits and spurts, and for the last few days, nothing at all. I've never done the whole NaNoWriMo thing, but this year, I've been chatting and comparing writing notes with a lot of folks who are and I'm trying my best not to let it get into my head. I have a horrid rebellious streak and am awful with shutting down when I feel rushed, so the "hey I wrote ten billion words today!" posts make me grumble a bit. But to be honest, that's not what's been slowing progress this month. My biggest challenge (which won't be a huge surprise if you're one of the five readers of this blog) is I have a new and very persistent little plot bunny that is poking around in my head and really determined to force me to start something new. Everything about my urge/reluctance to start a new book makes me think of my dad bellowing from the family room, "finish the old chips first!"

Dad did the shopping and every Saturday we'd help him bring in and put away the groceries. As a kid from a big family (six kids), this was the opportunity to scout out the food that you were going to try to chow down on before it was gone---a preview of the contents of the fridge that you were afforded by offering to help. Once the groceries were put away, it was time for sandwiches (because, yay! fresh lunch meat), Pepsi, (I have since reformed to Coke, and then re-reformed to La Croix) and potato chips. And while dad had bought a fresh bag that day that sat on the top of the fridge, calling to you with the promise of large, unbroken, ridged and salty chips, it would be a rookie mistake to open them. The seal on that bag could not be broken until last week's 1/16th of a bag, rolled up and misshapen, had been eaten. The bag full of only chip dust, grease, and salt had to come first. If you skipped ahead and opened the new bag, you'd get barked at and still end up eating chip dust first. And God forbid, if Aunt Ellen, aka "The Combiner" was in town. She'd commit that cardinal sin of combining the bags, pouring pulverized crumbs over untouched, fresh, virgin chips; killing forever the joy of the fresh bag, by forcing the remains of the old one to be part of the experience.

My current WIP (hell, let's be honest workSSS in progress) is the old bag of pulverized crumbs and grease. I've thought about it too long. I'm caught in a place where it isn't appetizing to finish it off. I want fresh, unbroken chips. I want to work on a manuscript where I haven't pantsed myself into a corner yet. I want this new idea out on paper and no longer haunting me. But something deep inside worries about taking a leap into starting yet another manuscript. While I know that I am capable of finishing books (I've completed at least five), I worry that starting another puts the finish of the few I've been working on even further down the road. And every time I think of opening a new document to type these almost maddeningly racing ideas into it, I keep hearing my dad's (as he would call it) basso profundo calling "finish the old ones first!" from the family room.

The one good thing about this whole process of writing, learning more about writing, and hoping to become a better writer is that I've sworn to be honest with myself. And if I'm being completely honest, I'm about 99% sure that during the handful of days I'm about to have off for Thanksgiving, I'll start this new book. The only way for me to mitigate the guilt on it is to become "The Combiner" and be sure to make progress on the other WIPs so I know that all will eventually be completed.

Either way, I'm glad to even be writing this blog post as I've been kinda "meh" about sitting down to write anything lately. So, what you're reading is already a victory for the week! Hooray!

Man, I really want some chips now.

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Nov 23, 2021

I am totally your Dad now. Except that I'm yelling at my kids to finish the old "Takis" (Which I find repulsive, FYI). Maybe take the dregs of the bottom of the bag and mix them with a bit of chip dip so they don't go to waste (apply this concept to your writing?) 😉 Good luck on your fresh start!

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