Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Culture of Success

In 2002, I started writing novel-style fiction again, after a long hiatus. At that point, it had been about ten years since I'd done any serious writing: anything more than noodling with ideas and outlining a few chapters.

I remember in 2002, it was terribly important to me that I succeed this time. I drew up The Master Plan(tm) and stuck to it for years, because I knew if I stuck to it, someday I'd succeed. For some definition of success: I'd have a finished book, anyway. It worked, too. Two and a half years later, I had a finished book.

But even before then, I'd gotten into the habit of finishing things. I was GMing on Sinai, and jordangreywolf had this thing about finishing story arcs. He hated to leave characters dangling, so if he started something with one he'd work to keep the story moving along and eventually resolve it in a timely fashion. When I first started roleplaying there this rather surprised me, because I always thought of RP as something you stopped doing when it became too much work. You played when it was fun and easy, and if it got so hard to continue that it wasn't fun any more, you just quit. It's a game, it's supposed to be fun, and if it's not why keep at it? But Greywolf would bull through the hard parts, and this pattern was contagioius. After a while, I started bulling through the hard parts, too. I discovered that I liked finishing up the RP stories I'd started. I liked the sense of accomplishment, the closure that it gave to those events. Finishing things felt better than stopping them.

Now, six years later, I've internalized it. Not just the idea that I should finish things, or that I can finish them. That I will. I may take breaks and I may hit rough spots, but I don't really think "I'll never finish this" any more.

Recently it struck me what a difference it makes, to have a pattern of successes to look back on instead of a string of failures. If I look back on the whole of my life, I still have ten times as many unfinished novels as finished one, and dozens if not hundreds of more uncompleted RP campaigns. Until I met Greywolf, I never thought of a campaign as something one finished, anyway. Characters' stories went on forever, until the GM got bored and stopped running for them. BUt I don't look back that far any more; I look at recent history and regard that as the modern trend, and I assume I'm going to succeed.

And now that I assume I'm going to succeed, succeeding is a lot easier.

Overall, it's a good place to be. It's much better than six years ago, where I stopped writign for years at a time because it all seemed so pointless, when I didn't think I'd ever finish anything.

But I'm not sure it's an unmixed blessing. Sometimes I wonder what the costs are. When you think you won't finish a project, that can make you reluctant to start. But when you're sure you will, it can make you even more reluctant, because to begin is also to commit to finishing. Sometimes I wonder if I'm too stubborn now. Would it be better to say "No, this was a mistake. It was too ambitious. I'm quitting now and doing something else" instead of bulling my way through to the conclusion? Is closure really that important?

With novels I've given myself more free rein to play, to start new things without finishing the old ones. But with campaigns, where several other people are involved, I can't bring myself to do that. I need to see it through.
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