When is it Finished


I’ve been knitting this sweater. It’s beautiful, in that image, and I can imagine just how I will wear it, when it is finally done. And it will be done. I do not have that problem some knitters have, of starting a basket full of projects and forgetting about all of them.

I am results oriented. I want the finished project, no matter how many times I have to rip out fifty seven rows of stitching and begin again. No matter if I have to email the designer because I don’t understand certain instructions. No matter if the sweater if finished in July when the last thing I want is one more layer of clothing.

I will finish that damn project.

And here is a tougher truth for me. When I get that sweater done, I know I will see mistakes. I know I will find a dropped stitch, a weird hole, a janky turned edge. And it will bother me and I will still wear that sweater.

My first novel, Seven Days in May“flew out into the world on Friday, and there is a part of me that desperately wants me to haul it back in, and slap it back on the work table, and rip out the stitches of badly phrased sentences or to fix some kind of, any kind of, imagined misinterpretation.

I remember a professor in college asking us when we knew a paper was finished. The truth is, he told us, is that no appear, or book, or work of art, is ever done. The artist will never be satisfied. We will always want to adjust, edit, shade or scrap our work. It’s the nature of the beast.

Part of this is ego. We want to verify that our work does what we had wanted it to do.

Part of this is the bigness of our ideas and the limitations of our media. Words sometimes fail us. Paint can only go so far compared to what we dream.

And so. There are probably a few dropped stitches in the sentences of my novel. There are probably typos and there are probably many wYs to read the text.

A work is done when you have done all that you can do to do what you had intended. When drawer time has been exhausted. When the story is told as best as you can tell it, no matter what medium you choose.