Thoughts on Endings

(The dog is at the bottom. Don’t cheat by scrolling.)

Although I’ve only just begun, it’s time to talk about endings.

What’s great about ending is that you’ve certainly have gotten past the beginning.

Endings can suck just as much as beginnings, but somehow there is less effort involved. Beginnings thrash around and bite. Endings usually wind down with a wimper.

(All of this — beginnings, endings, whatever is in between — is concerning creative projects. Writing, making, performing, whatever it might be, if it requires creative effort then that’s what this is all about.)

Philosophies and Tactics

I’ll just know it. While this might be true, it isn’t that useful. Depending on your technique and the way you work, you might never know when it’s done. It’s more likely that

It’s done because I’m sick of working on it, or, “It’s done because I’m done.” Ah, what could be more common, and indicative of something being finished, then a strong feeling of “Basta.” I’m done with this thought now.

It’s done because someone else says it’s done. Oh, this is a delight! The burden of making that final decision is off your shoulders and on someone else’s! And if that final decision rests with someone who’s competent and attune to your work, this can be a lovely situation.

Of course, if the final decision rests with an idiot then you’ve got problems. The project won’t so much end as work will cease. And then, as the creator, you get to drive yourself nuts wondering what you could have done had you power…

It’s done because someone bought it. This is a favorite of visual artists: Dickering with the damn thing must now cease because it’s in someone else’s house. I love this one. It involves money. Similar to this is:

It’s done because time’s up. The final state of many a play, movie, record, novel, script, jingle, painting, etc. has been decided because the due date is here and the show must go on, even if the nose isn’t quite right or that final mix sucked.

It’s done because no more money. This is sad and unsatisfying. This is your dream in a pauper’s grave. Worse than this is

It’s done because surrender. You lose faith in your abilities. Job and family suck up the blood of your best days. The voices inside your head, and perhaps inside your social circle, win. Your work becomes a pale, sad, abandoned dog. You glimpse the poor thing while driving home at night sometime, on the edge of a puddle of memory and imagination thrown up by your headlights.

It’s done because death. Dying is an effective way to get past all those last little fiddly bits and final touches. If timed correctly no one will even notice that the only thing that’s actually finished is you. For most of us, sadly, our work won’t even be part of the discussion unless the topic is “Needed dumpster size.”

It’s done because it meets the criteria for done-ness. If you’re having trouble finishing, then change the way you measure done-ness. Set a number of hours, set a number of words, set a number of repetitions. Set an artificial deadline. Use a stump of a pencil and end when drawing is like nails on a blackboard. Run the tape-deck out of tracks. Book a fixed number of hours. Buy a small memory card and shoot until it’s full.

Most of what I wrote above can be flipped around into a way to force an end to a project. Have a knowing friend decide. Book a gallery show and then make the work for it (my personal method of getting shit done). Do a quick poll on Facebook and abide by the results. Transfer the power away from yourself.

6:19. Dinner in 41 minutes. Time for a quick proof read and then done. I’m not super happy about this article/post/bit of writing. But there will be others because beginnings follow endings, unless done because death. And in that case, who knows what follows.

Remember, please please remember: it is never too late to call your dog, to call it home.

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