Try Harder (Or, a Happy New Year?)

Today is the release date of my book, The Fields. I have been trying to promote it more than I’ve tried to promote anything else, really, which still means I haven’t tried to promote it enough, because I’m terrible at telling the world to look at me.

But nonetheless, I am proud of myself.

Not for publishing a book, and not even for writing a book, but I am proud of myself for finishing what I started out to do. I have so much unfinished business in my art portfolio.

The real challenge in finishing projects has been to refine my work, because I get a draft or a cut done and I don’t want to mess with it. “It’s perfect just the way it is,” I say. And the thing is, I know it’s not perfect, but I’m afraid that if I touch it again, I’ll ruin it. And why not just be proud of what I have so far?

Because what I have so far is incomplete. Because what I have so far is not at its full potential, and, years from now, will just make me wonder what would have happened if I had just edited my work. Made it more accessible to a wider audience. Tried harder. If I tried harder and ruined it, at least I could say I tried.

But that is a scary leap, far scarier than that initial birth of an idea, the “honeymoon phase” of every art project: the beginning. I love beginnings. Beginnings usually have an ending already in sight for me. It’s like how I write every story: a beginning pops into my head, and either the ending is already there, sitting in front of me, or I can usually quickly concoct an ending — and then I stare at the page blankly, not sure of what happens in the middle. And what is the middle, really, but the most important part?

I don’t even think I have to say that this is entirely too applicable to life.

This is how I run my relationships. My career goals. My mental health. I think about how it’s not really perfect, but if I touch it, I’ll ruin it. It’s so much better as complacent as it is now, or as a dream.

My mental health needs a bridge between the beginning and the end. My relationships deserve better than to not be at their full potential. My career should be something that I can say I tried.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. I have a lot of unfinished business this year, and not just in my art portfolio. I had a mental hurricane for which I’m still working on shutting the storm doors. And while I can’t say I’m entirely proud of the middle of this year, I can happily say I’m embracing its end… And I already have a beginning in mind for the next year. The middle will come to me, I’m sure of it. I just have to try harder.

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