Tuesday, June 1, 2021



I have friends who testify to many started but never finished manuscripts. Their virtual drawer bursts with the begun & abandoned.



When I was a wee child, I had many such stories. Half-written real paper pages (that was a pre-digital age) not mellowing but yellowing from neglect, lay next to other unfinished arts and crafts projects. They accepted their destiny to never arrive at a destination.


That all changed in my late twenties.

I worked for a friend who is also possibly the most talented artist I have ever known. I saw the chest of half-done and abandoned textile work that was her life then, and it scared me.* I made a vow, not to another person or the creator, but between me and myself. From then on, I won’t give myself permission to begin a new work until I finished the one I had started.

For me, that vow was one of three best private decisions I ever made.


This is not for everyone. Nothing is. But if you are plagued with many “someday I’ll get back to__” started projects, my wish for you is that you find your way to a clear that cluttered path. My “how to” may sound harsh, but harshness may be what’s needed.


I find half-done manuscripts a sad sight. For me, only real life gets to be a never finished story. That is, until it, too, comes to an end.

* I'm happy to write that my old friend seems to have conquered the issue as well, as her amazing creations are now sold by the finest galleries.

To quote another writer, Nancy Sanders

"If one can, 

two can. 

If two can, 

you can too!


Evelyn said...

You're impressive, dear Mirka, with your self-discipline and determination. I like Nancy's quote. I have a t-shirt with it written on the back.

Kelly Hashway said...

I’m pretty sure there’s only one book I didn’t finish, but I decided to scrap the idea as a whole. I used portions in other books though, so it wasn’t totally wasted.

Kelly Hashway said...

I’m not sure if my comment was lost when I signed in to Google, so I’ll type it again. I have one book I decided not to finish, but I did use parts of it in other books, so it wasn’t really a waste.

Mirka Breen said...

As a clear sign of your disciplined self, Kelly, you made sure to finish the delivery of the comment, also :)
You are probably the most work-disciplined writer I know.

Barbara Etlin said...

Good plan. I love the cartoon!

I have only one unfinished novel project, which I abandoned because I realized that it would be unpublishable. I have no regrets.

Sherry Ellis said...

I think it's a good policy to finish what you've started before moving on. Sometimes the creative muse kicks in, though, and it makes you want to explore your next big idea.

MirkaK said...

As a freelance writer, I used to juggle multiple assignments at a time. I'd work on a query letter to get an assignment, do interviews and research for an article, start an article, finish another one to meet a deadline, etc. There was no way I could focus on only one piece at a time because of the time lag between all the work, publication, and payment. I find myself often doing the same thing in my fiber art. Sometimes I start a project but have to set it aside because something just isn't there for completion and I don't know yet what that missing part is. It might show up in a little while or even years later. I've learned to trust this process and feel tremendous satisfaction once I'm done. On the other hand, whenever I worked on a book, I worked only on that book, not multiple books because each major project took me years to finish.

Sue said...

I have lots of unfinished projects, but more finished projects. Some are mere writing exercises. Some are just ideas, not even bones of a skeleton. But, yes, I think it is so important to finish what you're working on. Right now, I'm catching up on some of the blog posts I haven't read for months. That's important to finish too. Although some just get deleted as either the topic doesn't interest me now, or as in the case of book recommendations, if I try to read them all, I'll never catch up. ;-)