Featured Author Week: Shannon Dittemore shares her thoughts on finishing strong

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shannon20_twitterOnce upon a time, eons ago, while sitting in the corner of his obsessively organized closet, a friend of mine voiced two sentences that refuse to leave me alone.

“Everyone says I have so much potential. I hate that.”

I was sitting opposite him in an empty laundry basket and I will admit that while I’m usually very chatty, I could think of absolutely nothing to say.

It was one of those moments you have—in that span of time after high school and before you’re headlong into a grown-up life—and you have no idea what you’re doing but you know it needs to be something. And whatever that something is, it needs to matter.

You’re in the trying phase. You try everything. Stuff you need to try. Stuff you shouldn’t try. Stuff your mama forbade you to try. Jobs, schools, collegiate sports, tightrope walking. But often, in the midst of those funky years, nothing ever gets DONE. Completed. Nothing gets satisfactorily concluded. The world is at your feet, full of possibility and you haven’t got the wherewithal to finish a thing.

It’s normal. Absolutely normal, but those years can be frustrating and that was where we found ourselves that night. My friend in a corner and I in a laundry basket. So much potential.

It would be several years before I understood what we were feeling, much less how to address it. You can’t understand it while you’re living it, you know? You have to get past it. Get through it. And sometimes, in the mad dash to get to the next phase of existence, you actually finish something. Life’s weird like that.

In that way, writing has taught me a lot about myself. With the very last book of my first trilogy hitting shelves, I have the completion I so craved during that time. I finished and I finished exactly as I wanted to. But there were times, in the middle of everything, where I didn’t know if I’d ever get to the end. I didn’t know how my characters would ever survive. Not just the bad guys—cause there are always bad guys to contend with. But, I wasn’t sure my characters could survive me and that seductive little option that constantly made itself available: giving up.

When I look back, I’m not sure why I didn’t give up. Maybe because I had a contract to fulfill. Maybe because I promised myself I wouldn’t. Maybe because too many people knew about this new thing I was trying. After all, it would have been incredibly embarrassing to tell them all, I just couldn’t guys. I tried.

Miley Cyrus (in all her wisdom) says it’s all about the climb. Okay. Sure. There’s truth to that statement. The journey is insanely important and you will start so many adventures that were never meant to be completed. But, if you’re like my friend and you’re tired of being told you have so much potential, there’s really only one way to shut the voices up.

Finish something.

Realize your potential. Oh, not all of it. It’ll take a lifetime of trial and error to ever come close to realizing the whole of who you are, but set your heart to accomplishing something that matters.

And then get up and get to work.

potential*Comic from http://xkcd.com/*

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