Saturday, 20 August 2016

Done and Dusted? by Joan Lennon

It's an odd time of year.  Endings, beginnings.  Summer is finishing, and there are already hints of colour change in the leaves.  Here in Scotland, primary and secondary terms started this week.  Exam results have been causing the nation's tension levels to spike. And I'm going on a journey.

I call it a journey instead of just a trip, because it is, for me, HUGE.  I'm going to Jakarta to visit my son, in his New World.  When I get back I'm starting a new job, as an RLF Fellow at Dundee University.  This is also, for me, HUGE and quite a bit New Worldish. But before I leave, I have this pressing, oppressive desire to finish absolutely every piece of writing I've got on the go - down to the last dotted i and crossed t - all of it, done and dusted.   

Chelsea porcelain inkstand, 
including a pounce box for sprinkling sand or pounce, a powdered gum, 
used to dry the ink on the page (Wikipedia)
- the "dusted" of "done and dusted"

It ain't gonna happen.  But the importunity of the desire made me think about some of the things I've learned over the years about different authors' writing styles - how some writers positively embrace the concept of leaving things unfinished to come back to.  So I thought I'd ask around.  

Dear Writers, 
At the end of a working day or week or time unit of choice, do you
a) like to have written everything you have in your mind?
b) like to stop partway through a scene, thought, or even sentence?

I'm an a) - no surprise - but I can see the wisdom in b).  Please pop an a) or a b) in the comments below, in the interests of, well, interest.  Cheers. 

Leonid Pasternak The Passion of Creation (Wikipedia)
painful pausing ...

Woman with wax tables and stylus (Wikipedia)
thoughtful pausing ...

Joan Lennon's website.
Joan Lennon's blog.
Silver Skin


Sue Purkiss said...

Ah. I certainly don't like to have everything finished - I'd rather have something to come back to. But I'd find it difficult to stop mid-scene.

Susan Price said...

I was going to say, 'Don't know' but I think I agree with Sue Purkiss. If I have a complete scene in mind, I like to get it written. But I'm easy with the notion of not knowing where a piece of writing is going or when I'll finish it.

I often break off, leaving notes for self IN CAPITAL LETTERS and different colours. The beauty of a computer - these notes are just deleted when no longer useful. They sometimes refer to a scene several chapters back which I've suddenly decided has to be rewritten.

See, the idea of something 'being finished' is problematical. A scene can always be rewritten.

Emma Barnes said...

Hmm. Not sure. Seem to crawl along so slowly sometimes I certainly can't count on finishing a scene!

Penny Dolan said...

I do like to have a scene there in some form even if - at present - that scene is barely more than a paragraph.

Polly P. Perkins said...

I flit from one project to another but get there eventually - lots of notes to me flying about