Its The Job That Never Gets Started As Takes Longest To Finish

One of my favourite quotes from The Lord Of The Rings. Not earth shattering, or deeply moving, just plain, sensible advice. And from one of my favourite characters; Sam Gamgee. He’s quoting his dad of course – the Old Gaffer – but its none the less something he says to Frodo when they are starting to feel the pain of the day to day trudge towards Mount Doom.

So why am I starting with this quote?

Silk Over Razor Blades (SORB) has had a good rest period. I’ve written lots (LOTS) of flash, a couple of short stories and a novella since looking at it last. Its time I went back to it and gave it a bashing like it will never forget. I need to finish it. It needs to be done.

I downloaded a trail version of Scrivenor and separated the whole manuscript into chapters (I really like Scrivenor and have decided that I’m going to buy it at some point, but that’s a separate post). Then I started picking at the first chapter which, in truth, is the worst of the lot and needs some really rough treatment to be the way I want it to be.

Then I stopped. I stopped dead and haven’t looked at it since.

That was over a fortnight ago.

I feel so… I can’t even think of the right word for how I feel. I’m going to rest with ‘scared’ because that’s the closest approximation I can make.

I think back to 2010, when I started querying and I know now that I wasn’t ready. Since then, the piece has had a savage rewrite and lost about 30,000 words that were just dead weight. Now I’m looking at it again, desperate to query it but terrified to take the last steps which will enable me to do so. I have a plethora of excuses (hehee, thanks Char! I was desperate to get it into a blog post!) and though valid (some of them) they shouldn’t stop me working. Not when this is what I want (what I really, really want).

(yes, even now I can’t take myself seriously)

When I think of how much this story means to me, and how long I’ve spent on it, my chest constricts and its hard to breathe. I can feel my mouth drying out even as I write this and there’s an annoying little tic in my left eye (though that may be more to do with the fly that just took a kamikaze dive at my face). Clearly this novel is the source of an emotional roller coaster for me, such that the mere thought of giving it the last edit it needs to really shine, fills me with dread.

What if I can’t do it?
What if I don’t like it?
What if, when its all done and there really is no more I can do, its still not good enough?!
Crying face from OpenClipArt

I sit in front of the computer and do every other job in the world except the one that needs doing most. And ‘needs’ is certainly the right word. I need to do this. If only for the closure and the ability to move on afterwards I need to do this.

But if I don’t start, I’ll never finish.

Thanks Sam Gamgee. I think the time has come. I think SORB is finally going to get the editing work it needs to go out into the big wide world. I have to let my baby go….

About Ileandra Young

I'm a thirty-*mumbles* year old (purple loving, cheese worshipping) author of fantasy, juggling a pair of beautiful twin boys with my burning desire to make up stories and write them all down. When I get the chance, I play games, listen to music, and in days long past I even ran a radio show. Though I occasionally write non-fiction, my heart lives in fantasy and my debut novel, Silk Over Razor Blades is now available through Amazon along with part two of the trilogy, Walking The Razor's Edge.
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15 Responses to Its The Job That Never Gets Started As Takes Longest To Finish

  1. Thnk you for a wonderful piece of writing, Ileandra. You really have captured what so many writers experience. It IS scary, but Sam’s quote is perfect. Best of luck…One foot forward, and then the other. Just keep moving, and you might just get where you’re going. But also don’t forget that you have your hands very full with the little guys. We can also cut a little slack for new mothers of twins!


    • Thanks Naomi. ^_^
      Hopefully having said it here will be a bit more of a spur as well. Somehow, knowing that others are aware of what I’m up to is really good motivation. Its one of the reasons I love NaNoWriMo so much.


      • That’s for sure. I tend to get stuck in Chapter Thirteen of whatever novel I’m working on, and NaNoWriMo provided the push I needed to plough through to the end of the current project. I cut about 50, 000 words from it, pitched it, and am doing one last polish before sending it out. It’s a little scary, as you said, but we just have to keep moving forward. Best of luck to you!


  2. char says:

    Ha ha! That’s awesome that you worked “plethora” into a post. Good luck with your writing…or rewriting (even harder). You can do it!


  3. jmmcdowell says:

    I can empathize with you, Ileandra. While Death Out of Time is with beta readers, I’m revising my first novel, which I also queried far too soon. I look at parts and think, “This is good now.” But then I see others and realize I still have major revisions to do. And it’s hard. Because, like you, I fear “What if it’s still not good enough?”

    But Sam’s old gaffer was right. And deep down, I suspect you believe in SORB as much as I believe in Summer at the Crossroads. So let’s both keep going! 🙂


  4. bwtaylor75 says:

    If not you, who? If not now, when? There is no one who can tell your story better than you, so tell it. You may just surprise yourself.


    • Here’s hoping! Chapter two looks like its shaping up nicely, far better than it was. So that’s heartening.

      And you know what? I do honestly believe that no one else can tell this story quite like I could/can/will. That’s not conceited, is it? o.O


  5. The Spice Girls are still around? Incredible.

    Nice article, but I still do not like the theme you have picked out. Maybe it’s just me.


    • Meh; other than the Olympics closing ceremony, I don’t think they are. The Girl Power has well and truly run dry.

      And its funny you mention the theme: only yesterday I was thinking it may be time for a change
      Hmmm, we’ll have to see.


  6. 4amWriter says:

    I think fear is a part of the process. And if we aren’t scared, then there is something seriously wrong–we’re just not connected enough to the project. Take it as a good, healthy stage of your writing. And I know that I feel more scared when I’m *not* engaged with my book than when I am working on it. That distance usually allows all that self-doubt to build.

    You need to go back to it and read it and see what happens. I bet you won’t be able to stop yourself from tweaking something, and then it’ll turn into active writing. 🙂


    • Someone once told me that fear is a necessary part of the process for similar reasons. If one isn’t scared about the potential outcome, then were in the motivation to give it all you have?
      While the terror does chill me straight through I’ll embrace it as a normal and healthy part of the process, as you say.

      Now however, its finding the balance between tweaks made for the better after fretting over them, and tweaks that aren’t needed because I’m ‘over scared.’


  7. Pingback: NaNoWriMo 2012 « Writing: A Conversation Without Interruptions

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