Clark Dagey wasn’t afraid to start something. Finishing things, however, petrified him. As an aspiring writer, this phobia was quite an impediment. Oh, he could finish sentences; in fact, he would finish your sentences. But just the prospect of finishing his stories, fleshing them out clear to “The End,” telling the whole tale, made Clark very, very afraid.
It wasn’t that he didn’t have ideas; he had scores of them. Plots upon plots, with unexpected twists and O. Henryian endings, scrawled on Post-It notes and pages torn from notebooks. He had characters, too; names similarly scrawled on Post-Its – Max Thrift, Walter Falkenberry, Abby Greenthal. He had titles: Thirsty on Wednesday, Lunges Before Breakfast, Rust To Rust. And sentences. He had sentences. “The cat watched lazily from the window as the man mowing outside slowly criss-crossed an argyle pattern into the lawn.”
Clark Dagey just needed to put it all together. Pull himself together, pull all the elements together, and he’d have a story. But when it came time to take out the brush, paint broad strokes, and fill in the details of the story, Clark just couldn’t pull the trigger. He laughed. As if one could pull a trigger on a paintbrush. Really! Now he was just being silly, he told himself. Sit down and write! Finish the story! But… a twinge of paralyzing fear. What if it turned out that it just wasn’t a good story? What if people read it and didn’t like it? What if they dismissed it as clever claptrap? What if they called it senseless drivel? And what if they were right? “They” scared Clark. Mostly, though, Clark scared Clark. His stories were all so perfect, so readable, so laudable and awe-inspiring – in his head. What if they lost their luster and meaning and glory as he tried to translate them into written word? What if it turned out that he was a failure as a writer? Clark laughed at himself once more; it dawned on him that failing to actually write made him a failed writer.
Clark reflected on all he had heard at the motivational courses he had taken, those breakthrough conferences he’d attended. Risk vs. reward. Reach out for your dreams. Make it happen. Overcome your fears. What’s the worst that could happen? He knew the words, the rhetoric, the clichés by heart. His fear should have been banished long ago to a place so far away he’d be unable to hear it mocking him. Nothing should be stopping him from fully realizing his potential. Gut-check time. Time for truth. The only thing stopping Clark Dagey from writing was Clark Dagey.
“I have nothing to fear but myself,” he said aloud. Now was the time to do it. Finally. Time to finish at least one story, then move on to the next. Clark took off his glasses, and headed to the spare bedroom for a nap.