Friday, June 10, 2016

Finishing Strong

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a love of all things literary. When she isn’t writing, she spends her days with her husband, Matt, imagining things unseen and chasing their two children around their home in Northern California. To connect with Shan, check out her website, FB, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Many of you have been asking, so before I get started on today's post, I want to let you all know that starting on Monday, we'll be hosting a WORD WAR! It'll run through Friday and Steph will post all the details on Monday morning. So, keep an eye out and get ready to BRING IT.

ALSO, we received your article ideas--THANK YOU VERY MUCH! It'll take us a bit to sort through them all, so be patient with us and we'll get back to you as soon as we're able.

One more thing before we get going. The following article was written just after I'd finished my third novel, Dark Halo. It was a guest post for Lytherus, a website for fans of fantasy, science fiction and horror--all the fun stuff. While I was thinking about what I wanted to post today, the story I start this article with kept cycling through my brain, and I thought, "maybe, MAYBE someone needs to read this one today."

So, here it is. An old article with a bit of my soul tucked into it. I hope it speaks to you.

Once 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. 


  1. That was beautiful. I really have nothing else to say to it. Thank you so much for this post.

  2. Thank you so much for this encouraging post! I really needed this as I'm doubting myself.

    My goal this summer was to finish two first drafts, and while summer is ending for me, I think I've realized that sometimes plans don't work out the way you want them to. Even though I didn't get anything done writing-wise, I guess I could say I learned more about myself as a writer and which stories & processes work for me and which don't. Still, I'm determined to finish something this year!

    1. I'm so glad you learned! And also, WOW! Two first drafts is a lot for ANYONE to finish.

  3. That was a great article. It said everything. Sometimes I do feel like giving up. I keep going though. Maybe it's all the work I've put into it so far. I don't know.
    I've been writing stories and books since I was 11. I've never published any of them, but I hope to. The current story I've been writing has been the most involving one I've ever written. Go Teen Writers has helped a lot.
    Well thank you so much for the post. It was wonderful. ☺

    1. You are very welcome! And I'm glad you make it a habit to push through!

  4. That was so amazing! And I'm super pumped for the word war.

  5. This was a really thought provoking post--thanks for sharing. Also, I can't wait for the word war now! Yay!

  6. First of all, can I just say it's awesome that this conversation happened in a closet, with you in a laundry basket?

    Okay, now that we have that out of the way...

    Yes. I did need to hear this. Finish something and prove to them you have more than just potential, you can accomplish things NOW. Yes, I needed that today. <3

    1. I might have needed it today too! And laundry baskets might have magical powers.

  7. I'll keep pushing on.
    Thank you, for that. :)
    Jeneca @ Jeniqua Writes

  8. Thanks so much! Just finished high school, and somewhat lost. :) More or less okay, though. Just crazy confusing times, you know?

    1. Oh, Sofia! I so know! I remember people telling me that my high school years would be the hardest, most confusing. But I'll be real, 18-22 years of age was much harder for me. But those years were also full of amazing adventures. Be okay with the unknown and look for good, solid soil to plant your hopes and dreams in. Find friends who support you. Lean on those who love you and who have your best in mind. And be brave. You can do this. You really, really can.