A friend of mine once told me she heard that 80% of people, when asked, say they are “writing a book” (at least, in their head). I don’t know where she got this “statistic,” it may not accurately represent the population at all, but I like the idea that so many people have a book sitting in their mind. Hey, I’m one of those 75% with a half-completed book on the back burner waiting for…what? Inspiration? Perseverance? Time? I think all of the above. My book has been 10 years in the works, progressing in fits and starts, but every time I’ve had a binge and worked on it I’ve deeply enjoyed my topic and the research and writing it entails.
In fact, more recently I started another work in progress. Last year my husband and I made a pact to meet for a regular lunch date once a week. One day our lunch date morphed into a detective novel brainstorming session, and after that for several months we worked together to develop characters, outline and flesh out a plot, and we even started writing some paragraphs of our novel little bit by little bit. What a joy! I love our ideas, and often find myself thinking about our heroine who has become a real person in my mind. But then, along came our move across country and our regular lunches got turned into appointments to get moving logistics accomplished. I keep our little folder with restaurant napkins scrawled with diagrams and outlines in a safe spot, and fully intend for us to get back to this project once life calms down again. (Which may be a while).
Packing up our house, I went through boxes and boxes of paperwork from my thesis, which reminded me that I have more than one unfinished project there that I could jump into and write up for publication. These are older and more difficult to get started on, but once again, reading through the old files and associated papers as I packed up the basement, I remembered how much I enjoyed thinking about that work.
I’ve got other works in mind – not all of them projects as big or involved as a book, but art projects, writing projects, research projects, some of them already started, some just in my head. So, I’ve decided, I like the idea of keeping a list of works in (various stages of) progress. It’s sort of the antithesis of my CV, which lists my works completed, or no longer in progress. While some might see it as a list of forgotten or perhaps failed projects, I instead think of this as a list of projects I want to keep in mind, as projects that I am not done with yet. Some may never get completed, and that’s okay. Often the hardest part of a project is finishing it, and it is a worthy accomplishment to follow through on things. But a project can also bring satisfaction, enjoyment, accomplishment in the process of working on it, in ways that others may not appreciate because there is no final product to show. As long as the process is still appealing and interesting to me, these projects will stay on my list, not dismissed as failures – and I hope to return to enjoying them again (and again). And maybe finishing some.