“Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.” Neil Gaiman said this. And he’s right. It doesn’t make it any easier, though.
I finished my PhD a week ago today. Well, I submitted it. It’s not FINISHED-finished until I sit my viva, get feedback, make corrections, have it printed and bound all pretty, and turn it in with the required paperwork. THEN I can put Dr on every form I fill out until the end of time. The past six months were a holy slog. The closer I got to finishing, the more I wondered how many people say fuck it and drop out when the finish line is in sight. I said as much to another Dr friend of mine, and he said that there is likely a PhD in progress somewhere, studying the increase in drop-out rates closer to graduation. I can see how it happens, though. It’s painful and uncomfortable and itchy and full of the bees of anxiety, knowing that once you finish this THING you have to hand it over to other people who will then test you on it. You will be judged what feels like forever on this one thing.
And if it sucks? Then so do you.
Even if you know, in your heart of hearts, that it’s not true.
It’s just this ONE THING. Whether it’s a PhD or a short story or a crocheted blanket. This thing ends up representing you, flaws and all.
So why finish? What’s in it for me, to work so hard and do this thing and maybe it’s good but maybe it’s shit and then other people will maybe point and laugh and roll their eyes?
Because if you don’t, you are letting other people—the imagined response of imagined other people, because even the imagined spirit of someone who is *real* is still an imagined person—live your life for you. Do you want to be old and between spoonfuls of red Jell-o (because red is best) constantly regret never finishing that thing? Wondering how your life would have been different—even if different means less successful or full of a bit more strife—if you had just finished whatever the hell it was? Because this thing, whether PhD or short story or crocheted blankie is *you*. Unfinished business is unfinished self. We are the stories we tell ourselves, and if your story is full of holes, you are full of holes.
And that’s all the advice I have for today I have a short story to go work on. Even if it’s shit.