How do you know when a project is complete?

writer house writing prompts complete

I had what felt like a complete draft of a collection of poetry a year or so ago. I began sharing it with some trusted loved ones and was excited about the energy I had captured, and about the way I was able to translate all the feelings and sensations and ideas. I believed then, and still believe it is my best work so far.

It was complete for that moment. It was a reflection of who I was then.

But then, for some reason I just put it down, put it away, left it alone.

Over the weekend, I picked it back up.

I'm still satisfied with it, but I feel disconnected from the words. The collection feels different. I don't know how to get back in touch with the words and purpose behind them. I don't know how to go about editing this collection. 

I am a different person now and I'm afraid to break the energy captured in this collection of poems. I have paths I want to explore further within this collection, ideas on where to take it and how it can be expanded, but I wish I would have pushed harder and farther back when I was coming to the end of that last completion phase. To really put a period on it.

I got 90% of the way there. Working on it now, this collection will become something different, which is fine, is good, but I'm worried about what will be lost by not finishing the collection completely when I was fully immersed in it back then.

I'm stuck in this completion purgatory, I’m between cycles of completion, there's nothing I can do about the unfinished draft from before except to be sure I push through this phase in the next project. 

Yes, we have to make room for the understanding that nothing is ever truly finished. There is always room for improvement, a new path to wander down, untapped potential. But we can't let that keep us from completing some thing completely.

How do you know when to leave a little bit of energy in the well and when to exhaust the reserves completely?

And that’s where the agency comes into play. When we consider how we want to finish, when we become aware of the difference between a period, a line break, a paragraph, a finished chapter or poem and a complete collection, we understand that completing a project requires a leap. The end doesn’t come easy, it is always a risk because there’s more at stake.

To complete a project requires a hard earned faith in your ability to exhaust yourself completely.