Added: Wednesday 18th October, 2017
Unfinished Business by Amy Zamarripa Solis
Amy Zamarripa Solis writes about her latest project and the importance of finishing what you have started.
I’ve always been a good starter. I love getting things off the ground. Unfortunately, as a writer, I’m not a great finisher. When people ask if I’ve written a novel, I squirm. I’ve written 3: unpublished, half-finished. Being unpublished is less of a crime than quitting. It’s like starting a marathon, then ducking out half way to go to McDonalds.
A few recent major life events have made me realise how much ‘unfinished business’ can create a psychic weight in our lives. An invisible object, it holds a distinct shape and size and has a colour and aura all its own.
Unfinished business can bear down unconsciously. It can make you feel sluggish, lethargic and finding day-to-day tasks difficult to complete. You won’t be aware of the root of the problem at first.
When I got my British citizenship five years ago, I suddenly felt light, released. The 6 years of ‘thinking about applying’ but not getting round to it had had an effect.
My career as a writer took a positive turn when my flash fiction pieces were published in an anthology for women of colour. It was fantastic to see my writing published and perform it on stage. The circle was complete. Publication doesn’t stop the characters from giving you grief like some moody teenager, but it is vital to have other people read your stories, share your world – and more importantly, laugh at your jokes.
My current project is one of the most important projects I’ve embarked on, No Place Like Home: a new artist film and collection of short stories about the gentrification of downtown Austin, Texas and destruction of my Mexican-American community.
In June 2015, I went home to Austin and spent two weeks capturing stories and memories from the city’s earliest Mexican restaurant owners and music and cultural pioneers to political activists and broken-hearted residents.
No Place Like Home started as a love-letter to my hometown. In two years, the project has spread across the UK, roping in visual artists and talking to dozens of people in cities such as Crawley and Milton Keynes about their lost childhood home.
I produced draft stories and a film edit. However - my project is still not finished.
Then the day job and life got in the way.
A 4-hour daily commute
A difficult boss.
Another new project.
A new job
June: 2 years since I began my project and I’m still not done. I’ve run out of excuses. I need to sort this out.
August: I organise a DIY writing retreat in Eastbourne and make it open to the public. I invite a writer and editor friend to help me. It sells out.
September: Small but well formed group returns. Everyone is lovely, but hard-core. I am sick on Sunday and go home.
October: Third retreat coming up. Stories are going well. I’m feeling connected, inspired. Regular commitment means it’s getting easier think about myself as a writer and focus on my writing.
I have a good feeling about this.
Amy Zamarripa Solis is an award-winning literature producer, writer and artist. She is Director of arts production company This Too Is Real and runs Writing Our Legacy, a South East literature organisation focused on Black and ethnic minority writers and writing.
Read more about No Place Like Home project http://nowherelikehome.co.uk