Last Saturday, I wrote the last 3000 words of my upcoming novel's last chapter. It thrilled me. I wanted to jump up and down in absolute glee, or dance in a circle with my two cats, holding their paws while singing Hallelujah, or open the bottle of vodka and treat myself to a shot (or two). But I didn't, because the work is far from over.
My novel still has few holes in random places, scenes that I skipped and gave lower priority than the others. Armed with the protection of an outline, I plotted and pansted my way through the novel, maintaining open arms to new discoveries as well. While the obsessive-compulsive in me would want to trudge through the chapters in order, I chose the riskier option. I braved the big bad boss despite his lackeys and minions all not taken care of.
Thinking about the end is a scary prospect. While the finish line is a beautiful and inviting thing, there are things surrounding and preceding it that may prompt people to question themselves before setting off. Sweat and effort are required to claim the prize. The journey is long and will take too much time. When we arrive at the end, it's THE END. There's nothing else to do. All these are crippling thoughts driving people away from taking that first step.
A decade ago, a younger me discovered what he wanted to become in his life - a writer. But I was studying an unrelated course in college. I was young, foolish, and afraid. I put my dream in the backburner and focused on what was in front of me instead. I killed my dream before it had the chance of growing.
That's the past. It's a story that someday I will tell in details. What matters more is that I have arrived, not when.
Many years later, in an epiphany, I did the terrifying. I faced myself in a spiritual mirror and asked, “What is the one thing you really want to do in your life? That thing you do not want to regret not doing when you're already dying.”
I gulped, tears slowly falling from my eyes, because I knew that my life prior wasn't truly my own. “I want to be a writer,” my voice softly echoed amidst the sniffles.
Ever since that moment, one by one, my online profiles changed from “Software Developer” to “Software Developer | Writer”. I declared myself a writer despite not having written my book yet. If people asked me “What have you written?”, I had a response prepared - “You'll see”. When people questioned me “What are you doing?”, my replies, expressed in different phrases, had one meaning: “I'm writing”, “Oh! I'm currently writing”, “I.am.a.writer”, “Writing! Yes I'm writing!”, “I'm penning something in secret that will make yo Momma proud and all the snot in your nose drip like a morning dew falling from the tip of a leaf”, “... (grinning while motioning my fingers typing on an imaginary keyboard)”. I became my dream. I went out into the world proud of what I wanted to be.
Crazy? Yes. Delusional? Maybe, but that's subjective. Terrifying? Definitely.
I'm willing to give rivers of sweat and mountains of effort to obtain the ultimate prize. I am no longer hesitant to take the long journey ahead, for now I understand great things take time. I am no longer scared to reach the end because it is never really THE END. The finish line is just the beginning of a new race.
I know the end. I've seen it. I felt it. I lived it, even if only in my imaginary world. I walked, I crawled, I stumbled, I groped my way through the dark - all these I did while keeping the end in sight. Every failure and every mistake mean nothing because the end will still be waiting. The end is not the only thing that matters. The journey, with its ups and downs, twists and turns, rough and smooth patches, is the real ultimate prize.
These past two days I wrote 3000 words to fill the gaps in my upcoming novel. It thrilled me. I wanted to go on a screaming spree, or dance the Macarena with my two cats, cradling them in my arms while singing Baa Baa Black Sheep, or buy a bottle of rum and treat myself to a shot (or two). But I didn't, because the work is far from over.
Cover image: the end by followtheseinstructions