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home : commentary : shesaid April 30, 2016

Completion process
"Instead of a series of do-overs, the Williamson quote gives me pause 
to reframe my outlook in 
celebration of 
a year just 
beginning." -Tami Mohamed Brown
By Tami Mohamed Brown

For me, writing has always been a sure way for me to decipher what I think, what I feel, what I know. As someone who tends to process slowly, I like to take my time and enjoy the sounds and the textures of words, the rhythm of my fingers on my keyboard.

I love the sensation of searching for a phrase or a sentence that could change the meaning of a poem, the tone of an entire story. I try to convince myself that if just one more word is tweaked then-and only then!-the piece will be perfect!

I let myself get caught up in the beauty of the possibility of the blank page, the story only half-told, immerse myself in the details until suddenly I find myself in a rut. I often get in a continuous cycle of revise and restart-a truly time-consuming way to operate. It's an easy way to get stuck, never really finishing anything, because nothing is ever really good enough to be done.

While I can easily say that I enjoy the act of writing, I'm not always so much a fan of the act of having completed writing. Simply because when you complete something, you're finished. And when you're finished, you can be judged.

The beginning of a new year is generally a time when I step back and take stock of what I'm doing and what I'm not doing. I know that my writing process is very similar to the way I live. It's a place where art imitates life. Or imitates process, at the very least.

Perhaps not finishing is a way of opting out and avoiding the judging-that horrible fear of failure, perfectionism at its worst. It's a habit I'm fully conscious of and one I've tried to break myself from, both on the page and in my activities of daily life that lie far away from the writing process. Knowing this, I know that I stand in my own way more often than not.


With this in mind, I recently came across a quote from the writer Marianne Williamson that stopped me in my tracks. Her words gave me a different take on my own personal standard operating procedures.

She wrote: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deep fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

I've begun to wonder about the lives of other women I know, all capable, amazing in their own rights. I've started to contemplate what I would consider the potential of other people's half-completed ambitions, the thoughts lacking follow-through, the what-ifs and if only-I-coulds. My own pursuits buzz and hiss around me greedily, infecting the pit of my stomach with a wanting that feels far too immediate and too dangerous to relegate a place of fearful procrastination.

Instead of a series of do-overs, the Williamson quote gives me pause to reframe my outlook in celebration of a year just beginning. It gives the courage to be resolute, to move ahead and conclude a story, unfinished. A story that only I can tell about the many things I long to do with my life.

Just as I have continued to float along the page, Williamson reminds me to be intent on the task of follow through without fear because it may bring, at worst-what?-graceful completion and closure? The joy of moving on to the next thing? I can live with that in anything I choose to do. At best, I'll find the gift of something marvelous.

Tami Mohamed Brown lives in Bloomington with her family.

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