I have a folder on my computer titled “Clues.” It’s filled with pieces of writing that might lead somewhere, but are far from finished. In my notebooks, desk drawer, planner, and in the margins of novels I have a similar collection of sentences: ideas, inspirations, a string of words that made sense at the time but are cryptic in retrospect. These clues are full of possibility.
But then there are the other unfinished projects, skeletons abandoned for months or years, pages and pages of half-baked paragraphs and outlines and notes. There’s possibility there too, but also shame and frustration and fear of finishing. Knowing that I have an incomplete story that needs to be written can keep me away from a writing routine for months on end. The bridge between beginning and ending can be a terrifying one.
I’m always interested in projects that allow for a voyeuristic look at a creator’s unfinished work: sketchbooks, unrecorded songs, or manuscripts. This work is inspiring in its possibility and comforting in its very human themes (procrastination, confusion, even death). I’m thinking about all of this because I plan to interview creators about their unfinished projects. I’ll ask just five questions, hoping to discover more about why we struggle to finish work that we’ve begun.
- What is your unfinished project?
- Why do you think it remains unfinished?
- When you think about your unfinished project, how do you feel? What do you think?
- Where do you keep it (the physical work and/or the idea)?
- If you could look through the unfinished work of another creator, who would it be? Why?
I start a lot of projects and abandon many of them but I never abandon my love for asking people questions. I’m always inspired when I get to talk to people about their lives and creative work and I’m always grateful that people want to share their answers with me. More to come!