Sorry, I haven’t posted in a while.  I could say that I was kidnapped by terrorists, held in a remote cave, and had to fight my way out using household appliances I transformed into elaborate homemade weaponry.  But I was on vacation.  I’m back and now that summer is over, you can expect posts on a regular basis.  Deal with it.

Last week, I posted a couple updates to my last Vonnegut  review that let you know I finished my summer reading project.  It was a photo finish, but I made my goal.  The last two were Slapstick and Timequake. I’ll be posting reviews on both, as well as an overall essay on the novels of Kurt Vonnegut, later on in the week. But before I do all that, I wanted to jot down some surprising thoughts that this whole process has brought up for me.

Recently, and for the seemingly umpteenth-millionth time in my life, I came upon the phrase “eighty percent of success is showing up.”  It was in an article commemorating the just departed Ted Kennedy and the writer was making the argument that Kennedy embodied the phrase not just because of how his family legacy played a major part in his political career, but his tireless work ethic that kept him at the office late into the night. The idiom is said to have been coined by Woody Allen and, to be frank, always struck me as bullshit.  Sure, having the courage not to quit or run away is vital, but let’s be honest—that formula for success requires you to have somewhere to show up to, which seems to me means you need a lot more than perfect attendance (usually, a combination of perseverance, luck, and nepotism) and I think the vast titles of how-to books with “surefire ways to success” proves me right.

Right about the time I rediscovered that sanctimonious saying, I finished my summer reading project. And somehow, my feelings of accomplishment got me thinking that maybe showing up isn’t what’s important for success, maybe it’s finishing what you start. Or more specifically, it’s important for my success.

I’ll admit it: I’ve never been a big finisher.  Sure, I got through college and grad school, but when it came to self-initialed projects and goals I just never got around to completing them. My childhood was littered with model cars and airplanes that were put back in their boxes, half-glued with a few steps left to go in the directions.  Ideas for comic books, short stories, and novels are saved throughout my computer with only a few paragraphs and rough outlines to them. Inspiration has never been a problem for me, but following through on those thoughts is another story.  It always seems that I’m letting a project or idea drift by the wayside and then jumping on another new one, staying in the vicious cycle of good starts for solid ideas.

Meeting my goal of reading all the novels of Kurt Vonnegut by September 1st was the first time in a good long while that I finished something I started.  It wasn’t something I had to do for work or school.  I did it for no other reason than I simply wanted to.  It makes me want to finish a lot of things.

[Pic via]