My son JC, who is on the cusp of turning 12, is a writer like his mother.
He spends hours in front of his laptop, hands flying over the keys, creating worlds and characters. He is full of ideas and he absolutely must get them all down on paper or his head will explode. Unfortunately (and in similar fashion to his mother, yet again) the beginning is where he ends.
“This is such a great idea!” I told him the other day, when he had produced his most recent first chapter. It was written using his typical verbosity and favorite font (fonts are very important) and included a few phrases so good I kind of wished I had written them myself.
“I’d love to see where this goes,” I told him. “Maybe this would be a good summer project.”
Suddenly the pre-teen in him appeared from behind the curtain.
“Why do you always want me to finish everything?” He moaned, snapping his laptop shut. “You don’t finish things. You have all the time in the world to write because you don’t have schoolwork and you don’t finish your stories. Why don’t you finish yours?”
Kids really know how to bring the hammer down, don’t they? I couldn’t argue with him, because he was absolutely right. I start projects, and occasionally manage to finish them. But those finished stories sit, in the depths of my filing cabinet and the nether of my iCloud account. They’re never “done enough” for me to put them out in the world. And while I don’t have all the time in the world to write—I homeschool JC and his little brother, Bird, as well as handle the domestic side of our household—that isn’t really what was keeping me from moving forward.
I opened my mouth to tell my child this and I couldn’t. Because to tell the truth about why I don’t finish projects or move them forward would be to admit to my intelligent, confident and amazing child exactly the thing I don’t want him to feel in his creative pursuits: fear.
JC won that round and I sat on the conversation for a week or so, ruminating. I decided that I needed to tell him the truth: I was anxious about putting my work out there, about the commitment it takes to be a writer, and about the fear that goes along with putting a piece of your soul out for the public to judge. He would feel those feelings eventually, and it was important to me that he knew they come with the territory of being a creative. But I also wanted him to have a model of what to do with that fear: you push through it and put yourself out there. You finish the story.
That was the night I wiped my blog clean, pulled out my completed novella I’ve been tinkering with for years, and started building that writer platform we all hear about these days. And today is the first day I’m going to hit publish, so I can tell my kid: look. It’s a start and a commitment to finish. It’s a process. It’s creativity. If mama can do it, so can you.
Today one day becomes Day One, and reader, I’m glad you’re here. I’ll be talking reading, writing, and of course, raising boys. If you’re new here, welcome. If you’ve been following for awhile, welcome back. I’ve got some big stuff on the horizon that I can’t wait to share.
Let’s talk: leave me a comment and tell me about a project you’ve worked on that has been hard to finish.