I have a full draft. If you’re wondering of what, I am in fact writing a brand new musical, libretto and all. Sounds crazy when you write it down.
I can’t really believe that it is true as I’m writing it. But it is. I have a full draft of a musical, acts 1 and 2, shapes of all songs so far. Four and a half months of work later, and I can finally proofread beginning to end. Still a mountain of work ahead of me, but I have in fact written the words ‘The. End.’
However, that is the one thing that I can’t quite let go of – the ending. As a teacher, I always counselled my students to plan, plan, plan. Never start writing if you don’t know the ending. Which, I have to say, is advice that I followed.
But I am not very good at endings. I never have been. I will rewrite, change my mind, change it back, and create delay after delay for myself rather than say something is done. Because when something is done, it’s not just for me anymore. It’s time to share it, and as I have said previously, I am not the biggest fan of sharing what I make.
Endings don’t come naturally. I’ve never liked ending anything. All my stories that I wrote as a child were never-ending sagas, and any time I see a season of life ending, I push back. I hate endings – endings mean goodbyes, change and letting go.
My university teachers (clearly some wise owls as I keep referencing them), were constantly telling me that my work is done when I decide it is done. I could hold onto it forever, or I could put a full stop and decide that that is that.
Creativity has more to do with endings than you might think. If the best artists in the world didn’t at some point put down their brush and stop painting, no-one would ever have seen their art. If the best composers hadn’t finally sent their music in to be performed by the orchestra, it would never have been heard. Of course, there are famous stories of composers who would rush off and edit their work after hearing it performed, no matter how many times they had already done so, but the point still stands. If work is never called presentable, then it will never be presented.
The challenge, therefore, is this: what work are you holding onto because you don’t think you’ve found the right ending yet? What is really holding it back? Lack of a real ending, or lack of the ability to let it go?
Not an easy question, but with every creative project I face I have to answer it.
Jenny Guilford / Jena Ren – 2022
This post was originally published October 2019.