When I was at art school in France (a million years ago), I returned to my limestone studio cave one afternoon to find that my small painting of pink wildflowers and green leaves, loosely rendered, had a torn piece of paper tacked to it that read: This is done. It wasn’t signed, but I recognized my instructor Kevin’s writing. The painting came together quickly, in just a few hours. I’d considered it a sketch. But the note made me pause. I stood back and looked at the painting with fresh eyes. In fact, the painting was finished.
Yesterday I brought my final working draft to class. So many sections sliced, a few carefully chosen sentences woven back in, all the pieces arranged in what I hoped was the right order. Marcelle’s first words were, This is finished.
It’s difficult to know when any piece of art is finished, and it’s important to know when to stop. I’d feared I had edited all of the energy out of the essay. What a relief to know the energy is still there and that the ending works. I will tinker with it a little more, thread through a few more sentences, make those final cuts. But it’s almost there, just a few small revisions away from saying, This is done. (I think…)
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