Originally published September 30, 2012, at Creative Dream Journals.
Ahh, completion! Praise and sunshine and confetti and glory!
This month, Jamie Ridler suggested that the Creative Dream Journalers write about completion. The timing is perfect for me because just a week and a half ago, I finished writing my first book manuscript and sent it to my publisher. The book itself is far from complete—among other things, I will need to revise it based on feedback from my editor and three expert reviewers—but still, this is completion.
I began researching the material for this book fifteen years ago, in 1997. Five years later, I had a complete PhD dissertation, but my plans for a book got waylaid by other life demands, including a serious health crisis, a career change, three cross-country moves, and the launch of my own editing business. When I began to emerge from this hullaballoo, I spent two years writing a variety of book proposals targeted to different kinds of literary agents and publishers. A year ago, in August 2011, after receiving a bunch of rejections, I heard that my current publisher was interested, and this past January, I signed a contract. Since then, I’ve split my time between earning a living and writing the book.
And now, I get to take a break.
The day after I sent my manuscript to my editor, I went to a coffee shop and wrote a list of priorities for my post-manuscript life. Then I did a five-day fruit-and-vegetable detox diet. Then I immediately began retoxing by going out to brunch with a friend and then landing at a bookstore, where I’m eating a chocolate croissant while I write this post.
I worked for my editing clients this past week, but I also went river tubing, swam at a spring-fed pool, spent an hour bouncing on a huge trampoline, and went to a potluck dinner at a friend’s house.
To my surprise, I also rediscovered my interest in my book’s subject matter—spirituality and progressive religion—and attended the first of a six-part sermon series on the world religions at a local progressive church.
I’m playing. My favorite thing to do.
There are projects ahead—remaining work on this book, beginning the next one, and a variety of projects related to my non-writing life. But for now, my project is to play. To relax. To explore. To wander. To rest in that creative space of security—off task mode, no goals, no requirements, just being in the moment. That’s how I want to spend what have, for past several years, been my writing days. Refilling the well—an ongoing artist’s date—a return to center—a return to me—a temporary reprieve from productivity, for the sake of receptivity.
Since the career change/serious illness extravaganza, I’ve become a paranoid person. So it occurs to me: by stating my intention to partially abdicate responsibility to task-completion, am I inviting disaster? Will some crisis or set of crises arise to punish me for committing to being carefree for a while? Are true vacations—the kind where you really relax mentally and emotionally—allowed? Will my grand plan to be plan-free for a while get averted by Things That Need To Get Done?
Maybe. But today, I’m happy, and I’m going for it. That’s the joy of completion.