I found out how truly unsystematic I am by setting a schedule for myself and not following it. That happened because I invented Finishing School. I invented Finishing School because I wanted to finish things I start. I wanted to finish things I start because I feel crummy when I don’t. Crummy is a polite word.
Also I’m too hard on myself. I had two therapists in one day tell me that. I think I just try to see things as they are and not be crushed by them. To others that looks like being hard on myself. So I try not to be too hard on myself about being too hard on myself. But it’s hard, because I want also to know the truth about myself.
The truth is that I am not very systematic. I just think I am.
But I am inventive. That sometimes makes up for not being systematic. If I find a vexatious shortcoming I cannot mend, then I make up a program around it and involve others and then it becomes a service to humanity, not a character flaw.
Tonight we gather again in the living room, seven of us each saying, this is how I break my gargantuan task into doable weekly pieces; this is the part I am finishing now; this is my goal.
And lifelong wishes get built piece by piece.
I know that for me the obsession with finishing, and the fear of not finishing, stems from my fear of repeating my father’s shortcomings. If I could finish the things I start and also be as smart and funny as he was that would be better but I don’t think so. At least I get to finish something — in this case the novel. Ha ha.
I say Ha ha but it is getting done. And the ways I am solving the problems in the novel may be interesting to others. Perhaps I will share some of that as I get closer to finishing.
So: To recap: We do finishing school by deciding every week what part of whatever gargantuan impossible project we want to finish this week and telling people. We mark out time on a calendar. We get assigned a creative buddy and we call or email or text our creative buddy before and after each creative session.
Here is the part where I find out how unsystematic I am: I write down on a calendar what I am going to do and then don’t do it. I get to watch myself not doing it.
But here is the other part: I set this goal and say I am going to do it at one particular time and don’t do that but then wake up at some other time and do it. It comes upon me unbidden, and I buckle down and disappear into the work and emerge hours later as if out of a trance, and work has been done.
I try to be systematic and instead I encounter my essential anarchic nature. But the work gets done!