Posted by: Mark Nielsen | November 6, 2008

Our Moment, My Moment, & Falling Short

I feel a lot of tension today. Like I’m surrounded by possibility, pregnant with promise, but I’m scared I’ll screw it up somehow (or maybe that we’ll screw it up again, politically speaking…)

Part of it is the general social atmosphere, the day after the election. I have a campaign hangover (though it’s figurative only, in my case). I have reclaimed that hope that many Democrats have been talking about. But now that the victory is in hand, I also realize it was just the first battle in a long string of them to come.

Nevertheless, I think more of my spiritual tension has to do with my personal life.

For instance, I have a job interview tomorrow. And while I’m definitely anxious to get back to work, I’ve been putting off chores, and avoiding work on my novel, for awhile now. I’m always telling myself I have time, there’s no rush, all those familiar reasons that my pesky inner teenager gives for delaying what he doesn’t want to do. And yet I feel guilty about delaying those chores. Plus they loom larger and weigh me down as a week, or two (or years, in the case of the novel) go by without my finishing them. Finally, under that weight, sometimes the pressure forces my hand and I finish, by any means necessary. But most times, I stay stuck. I delay my way straight out of an opportunity. I’m paralyzed. My sister suggested recently, perhaps with good reason, that I’m a “non-finisher”. It’s a huge character flaw, and yet apparently I don’t know how to be otherwise.

And now, what if I get that job? I’ll have another excuse to not take care of X, Y or Z.

Let me just say this sucks. For example, I actually sat down here a few minutes ago to abstractly and cheerfully write down a couple of cool lines I heard today about writing and the creative process — about finishing stuff, about making it “good enough” and not obsessing about making it perfect. And yet here I am, obsessing about my own imperfections, instead of writing that love note/quote of encouragement to myself (and to my readers… all four of you, …though you’re emotionally healthier than I am and probably see right through my b.s. right now).

Anyway, here are the lines. Both are lifted from the DVD commentary track for the movie “definitely, maybe” … which turned out to be better than I expected (and timely, as it’s about a political consultant, and a sensitive guy who’s kind of screwed up). They were offered like a gift by male lead Ryan Reynolds to the director, and therefore to us all:

“By the time you’re done, you have to kill a few babies.” (and by babies, he means lines, scenes, ideas, or paragraphs you really loved, but that don’t fit well in the context of the larger work )

“You don’t finish a film, you abandon it.”

And now, because I’m taking Ryan’s advice, or maybe because I never finish anything of consequence, I’m


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