The thought of finishing is the only reason I can ever start anything at all. Process is torture: we write to have written and nobody really means it when he says the journey is the most enjoyable part.

That said: rough drafts. There is nothing as beautiful and alive as a rough draft! (Degas!! you son of a gun! Your sketches! More insane than anything you ever finished!) Things in process still breathe questions, still know boundless hope. Once a piece or project is finished, even if it asks great questions, the room for the questions it might ask is suddenly not boundless. The places the piece might take us are no longer infinite. There are borders where there once weren’t. The mystery and possibility in a sketch gets replaced by a staid staleness the moment the piece becomes finished.

It's even true with the most successful finish, which can give us an adrift emptiness when we expect the fullest satisfaction. It's once the show wraps that actors feel the post-show blues, it's when politicians finish campaigning that their immune systems collapse, and whatever I’ll just assume that when an author’s manuscript is accepted for the last time he feels a pang that his character’s destiny is set. Finishing Well is contained in borders that can’t bind the heaving reality of striving.

For these reasons I love it when people refer to their passions as their “endeavors.” It acknowledges that the living of life is essentially in-process. Maybe we just weren’t made to finish things? "Glad I finally finished that friendship,” we never say. "it's complete now." “Family? Ya I finished that too. Same for road biking/whistling/thinking.”

We’ll leave it to God to look at what he has done and “see that it is good;" leave it to Jesus to look up and say "it is finished." We might not reach any kind of real completion in this lifetime, but the idea of it can give meaning to the constant striving, to the creating of countless rough drafts in every area of our lives, to making the honest sketches that breathe with real life.

all art by Edgar Degas