I’ve Started So I’ll Finish, Dammit.
I always finish books. It’s a rule. Even if I hate it, and have to read just a page or two a day whilst starting more books on the side, I will get to the end, in the end. I’ve been caught out too many times in the past, when a book has had a slow start and then ended up so amazing I am really glad I stuck it out.
Reading is very similar to writing, (and relationships, and diets) in that giving up in the past makes it easier to give up in the future. Not that I’m advocating staying in a crappy relationship, hell no. Run. Life’s too short to dwell in a loveless sham, but it’s not too short to finish a book. And working that completion muscle makes writing, and finishing things in general easier, and actually more likely to happen.
The best ideas come to me whilst I’m writing, and suddenly what I’m working on at the time becomes a boring dirge I’m sick of re-drafting, and I want to chase the shiny new thought, like a spaniel running after a cat that’s has sausages taped to its fur. But no. By all means, make some notes, jot down some ideas, but don’t chase the cat. If it’s any good, it will hang around, and still be there when the current project has been beaten to death on its eighth draft, shoved in a drawer and ignored forever.
With ebooks, it’s possible to see which books are finished, and which aren’t. I’m not sure if I believe the data entirely, as some people might return to a book later. Maybe they have just had a baby and are too tired to read. Or have an eye infection. Of their Kindle is broken, and they would read the rest of the book if they could. Based on this article, I ordered ‘The Goldfinch’ as I want to know why so many people gave up. But I wouldn’t be one of them. As it was, I loved the book. I’m glad it was as long as it was, it’s depth warranted that much detail, and that long a period of time covered. I finished the book about a month ago, and I still find myself thinking of it sometimes. Book hangovers are the best.
Donna Tartt comes up in Google images when searching ‘finish book’. I hope the fact she won a Pulitzer brings her some comfort. And I think The Goldfinch will be a classic, and in fifty years time will still be read, and Fifty Shades of Grey will not.