The Terror of Finishing a Big Project

Anneliese Fox
3 min readMay 11, 2022

It’s really a thing

Shelf full of ceramic bell bodies waiting to be completed.
The bell project work in process shelf. photo by author

I figure that I am 98.2% finished with my current big project: a middle-grade sci-fi novel. Three weeks ago, I guess that I was about 97.5% finished. At this rate, I might be done, when? Never?

Yup. That’s the problem. I’ve been working at this thing for three years, give or take, and I am gob-smacking terrified of being done with it.

The funny thing is that through no intention of my own, I’ve been reading a lot of late of how this is a real thing. This last little bit of a push to be done with a thing can be the hardest part of a project for some people. Apparently, I am one of them.

Now, this isn’t really news to me. I have always preferred process to results. I revel in the zen state that comes from spending hours doing a repetitive task hours on end. I probably deceive myself into tasks that permit me to keep from finishing a project far more than anyone should admit.

No, thank you very much, I don’t want to do the same task day after day. I crave doing lots of different things. I delight in doing multiples. One current project is to make 100 bells. All alike? Of course not, all different, but within a fairly narrow set of constraints. I like to explore the possibilities.

Anyway, this is not about the bell project, which I estimate to be about one third done. It’s about finishing a novel and getting it on its way to being published. To be honest, it is closer to completion than any other novel writing project I have ever done. At this point, I even have the query letter written. If all goes as planned, I will release it into the electron sea this weekend.

I can’t control whether anyone besides me will like this story. Maybe I will be able to sell it, maybe I won’t. All I can do is make it available to the universe and see what happens. And I am ok with that… at least for now. Maybe after I’ve racked up a hundred rejection letters I’ll feel differently. By then, hopefully, I’ll be deep in the weeds on another story and my excitement in it will offset the sadness of not seeing this novel appreciated by anyone else.

I think that’s the best an unpublished writer can do — keep writing and improving one’s skill until something finally lands. Either we’ll get this need to put words on paper out of our system (unlikely), or we’ll find an audience for it. But that can’t happen unless we truly finish the work and send it out.

My editorial plan for this year is to complete six novels. Most are already written and in various stages of editing. I don’t have a goal of being a best-selling author by the end of this year (would be fun, but totally unrealistic). My goal is to get stuff done. To be truly finished an moving forward. Wish me well.

Wishing you well in completing all of your goals.

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Anneliese Fox

Writer of speculative fiction, programmer, artist in wood and clay, owner of Fox Computer Systems. My almost weekly blog follows what interests me at the moment