Posted by: jeannineatkins | June 18, 2013

Final Pages

A white butterfly flits over the roses and wild geranium. The porch is neither too hot nor too cool. I had local strawberries on my oatmeal this morning, all of which makes me feel kind of ashamed for feeling restless while I write. Wishing Peter would suggest a diversion.

I know the signs. Recently, two friends have asked me to cast an eye over work that was soon to head into its next public stage. They wanted one more person to read it. They wanted a little more time. Work that’s almost done can make us anxious or bored or some hideous combination. Yesterday I talked with a friend who mentioned another writer who seemed never to quite finish things. “It’s hard,” I said. “When you think everything on your computer is fairly worthless can be a sign that you’re near the end.”

Sometimes I can sound like I’m smart. But only minutes later, I said, “My book about writing is about 95% done. Um, have I told you that before?”

My friend laughed.

Peter also had recently asked about my book, while I’d been caught in the pleasure of a new project, and I was reminded to finish what I’d set aside. It’s been going well, and I’ve even make new discoveries in old material, but there’s a resistance that shows up as self doubt or a general wiggliness and desire to work on something brand new, which seems so much more attractive. I’ve managed to keep at my editing until noon, and now plan to do a few errands and return to the work over an iced tea, hoping a different view turns around my mood.  And if I run into anyone, I’ll tell them I’m 96% of the way through. I’m still taking some notes about my new book, but, while I dread as much as yearn to type, “The End,” I’m heading straight toward that day.



  1. Give a yell when you get to the finish line so we can all cheer!

    • Oh, Sarah, I will. I’m so grateful for your lovely cheers all along!

  2. Even when I am near the ‘finish’ of most anything, I am asking myself if there’s anything else I should do, Jeannine. I like that you put these feelings into words. I have had former students in the past who always wondered if their projects/writing/assignments were done “enough”. It’s helpful to know we’re not alone! And-I’ll cheer too when you say it’s completed!

    • When you’re being so careful, and changing word after word, it truly is hard to know when to stop. There are so many variations of “good enough” and we have to learn to trust them. But I am so fond of those who are anxious like me, who can keep seeing the flaws — but then we have to take the leap into new work, I think.

      I always appreciate your cheers, Linda. Truly they mean a lot.

  3. “And if I run into anyone, I’ll tell them I’m 96% of the way through.” Ha! I am the writer who is never done – nothing ever feels good enough. I think I am rather wedded to the idea that I can always improve upon what I’ve written – but then I deny myself the satisfaction of the completed project. Alas and alack….but I do love the scene you set at the beginning of your post. Two days to the end of the school year, and looking forward to such serene scenes in my life!

    • The idea that we can always improve is so important, and so dear, that it’s hard to know just when to shrug it off. If only writing could be like a cake and a timer goes off! But if you ever want someone else to take a look and say I think this is done, you know who to call on. I can give gentle but well-felt kicks. Keeping my eyes on you …

  4. I’ve got a candle burning in the window for you, dear friend, and for your book about writing. Waiting with joyful anticipation for your arrival at The End…

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