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January 17th, 2011

In a way, I’m a little shocked that this is only coming up now. Shocked and confused.

Let’s look at the facts:

  1. I’m a pack rat. (It’s that Cancerian thing, again—I like to carry my house and all of my stuff with me. Wherever I go.)
  2. I’ve been writing/creating for a long time, as far back as my memory goes.
  3. All artists have egos. We have to or we wouldn’t be bold enough to take our ideas outside of our brains.

So why, why oh why, am I suddenly having a hard time letting go of my work. From that list above it seems like this should have been an issue all along. Why is this the first I’m hearing of this (from my innards)?

The infamous Kelly Diels said, “It’s like birthing a child and then giving it away.” At first I bristled at the intensity of that example, yet—while sending my work out into the world without you may not be quite so hellacious as giving up a child—my heart does feel broken.

I’ve written and sent copy to be used in a zillion places where I am not. And it’s never bothered me. So, again I ask, why now?

  • The emotional investment of working on a project for two months?
  • The connection with the mission of the client?
  • The desire to see the work ‘up in lights’?

Yes, definitely, on the first two. But, it’s the third that is stabbing at me. The blood, sweat and tears have been shed. And in this case, seeing the result, realizing the fruition, having that YES! moment—aren’t only sorely missed…they also seem to be the final stretch of a long creative run.

And now, I feel unfinished. The work feels unfinished. Though perhaps only to me, perhaps it’s only something that a mother would know.

So—it’s not, in the end, that I ‘let go’ of the work (ah ha! that shock and confusion was unfounded!)—it’s that the work left me too soon.

It makes me feel like I’ve lost all control, like I’ve lost something, like I’ve simply lost.

Other people, whom I trust implicitly, are finishing the work (work, in fact, that we all had our hands in).

…still, I can’t help but wonder, if it wants its mommy.

Image credit: WestCoastCrafty

15 Responses to “Unfinished”

  1. Amy Oscar on January 18, 2011 2:36 pm

    Ugh. I feel the EXACT same way but my work hasn’t taken two months, it’s taken two years (or longer). We’ve finalized the book cover, finally. All I have to do is finalize the manuscript and I simply cannot do it.The excuses I have come up with, and this is just one day: It’s raining, I’m too cold, I don’t have time (I have nothing but time); I’m tired; it’s too complicated; yadda yadda. Here’s what I am telling myself, right now, in front of you: Finish the damn book. There’s another – even better – one right underneath it but you can’t see it until you get this one out of the pipeline. (There, I feel better. How about you?)

  2. Alexander M Zoltai on January 21, 2011 5:11 pm

    You’re reminding me of a quote from Paul Valery:

    “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.”

  3. Fragments of a Broken Mind on January 22, 2011 7:45 pm

    You know I had a hard time getting rid of my work too…I still have short stories that I want people to read, but at the same time I want them to just sit in my computer…and god forbid if anyone ever wanted to buy them… Im totally with you!

  4. Renee on April 7, 2011 4:34 pm

    It has been a struggle for me to let go of my high school work, much less more recent projects.

  5. Amy on April 17, 2011 8:57 am

    Hi Julie

    I love your site both by the way you connect with your words and the site layout itself. The site generates a cultural pull that feels familiar and homey -like I’ve known you for a long time.

    I can relate to your feelings. I create intellectual property continuously in my work with companies – creating visual models and exercises to help ignite the next level of leadership thinking w/ my clients. Despite copyright protection, it’s not uncommon to see “my stuff” living out there in some modified fashion to suit someone else’s needs. It’s happened. I used to feel terribly at times when I saw this but then I realized something and tweeted about it – here was the tweet:

    “To do what you love for a living, it’s helpful to remember – you do what you do for others – and what you create, if highly valuable – will not stay your own.”

    Essentially the world does consume our ideas, our creativety, and sometimes the very energy we draw up from our will to be unique – becomes “theirs”.

    Just keep giving – never run out of what is you – and that is what can’t be taken.

  6. david.doolin@gmail.com on May 12, 2011 2:52 pm

    I found there is a difference between emotional involvement in the small versus emotional involvement in the large.

    In the small, it’s getting wrapped around a specific piece of work, perhaps the copy.

    In the large, it’s how the project overall is being run.

    Before my “blogging” career, I worked on an incredibly interesting project for simulating buildings in video games. Design/build in fact. For various reasons (not all of which in my control), the project was refounded on different technology after I left, and I had part in that. I learned something from that: don’t get wrapped in up work I don’t own.

    When I own it, giving it away may not help me, but it doesn’t hurt. When someone else owns it, it’s a total loss of control. And a loss of time. And loss of energy.

    Back when I was writing and posting every day, this was partly a reaction to working for years, and having nothing to show for my effort at the end of it all.

  7. Petra on June 2, 2011 7:13 am

    I know this feeling. The worst is to feel that you abandon something you shouldn’t.

  8. J on July 6, 2011 3:47 pm

    I cried when I threw my stuffed animals away from childhood. What a wake up call. By throw, I mean burned in a campfire, in a not insane way. And for the record, they are your words. No one can take that away from you. And if they do, come up with new ones.

  9. Solveig Engh on July 10, 2011 10:49 pm

    I miss your words. We have little in common, but you were a window on something unique–and wonderful. I admit I’ve even been concerned for you. Thanks for all you gave of yourself and know that I–and probably a zillion others–would love to hear from your again.

  10. Ron on August 10, 2011 8:05 am

    This glove is not yet finish. But if this one is already finished I guess it is more nicer and beautiful. Related to your post, I guess that there are things that should be left unfinished.

  11. Rex on September 11, 2011 12:28 pm

    It doesn’t feel good mostly to everyone but you have your reasons. There will be a much better and more gratifying one to replace it. For now, don’t be too hard on yourself and take some time to rest.

  12. Timothy on September 24, 2011 3:53 am


  13. Jane on October 14, 2011 8:34 pm

    Yeah, i still have many works to be finished. I love your site both by the way you connect with your words and the site layout itself.

  14. Susan on October 26, 2011 10:23 am

    When beginning a task my first problem is developing a plan to finish it. Once I come up with a plan, I devote my time and effort on finishing my task. I think I had felt the feeling of not being able to let go on the task when done.

  15. Winona Schelling on January 23, 2012 1:25 pm

    That is so sad to know. But everything in life has to end at some point. This is it in your case. But there will always be new doors and opportunities to open soon! How long did you work for this project?

    I hope you won’t get too sad about it! It’ll pass soon!


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