I just put the final touches on the final draft of the final manuscript of a book I've been working on for what seems like eighty years. It's the one I've mentioned a time or two of late — the one on student motivation.
Here's the title, as best we can figure at this stage of transmission in to production: The Will to Learn: How to Cultivate Student Motivation without Losing Your Own. I think it's the best thing I've ever written — or at least the most painful.
There's this old Arthur Schopenhauer line where he says that there are two kinds of writers: those who write to write and those who write because they have something to say. I hope to goodness I'm the latter. It's either that — that I have something to say with this book you'll be able to get your hands on come May or June of '23 — or I'm crazy.
(It's probably a bit of both.)
When I texted my editor Sharon that I was finished with the manuscript just now — the final birth pains of which have kept me from publishing on this blog for several weeks — I was immediately reminded of the line from John's Gospel where Jesus speaks from the cross a final word: “It is finished.”
I did some research just now on that saying. In the original manuscripts, the word is just the single Greek word tetelestai. It connotes past action and current state. It's the kind of thing an artist says at the end of a long and arduous creative process. It smells of relief and pleasure.
It's the perfect word for how I feel right now. Except, in my less-than-holy aspects, there are a few expletives interwoven with the sentiment.
And it reminds me, quite a bit, of how teaching works, too. Time forces us to “finish” work that, as artists and lovers and creators, we likely never otherwise would. There are always bits that we had hoped would be incorporated into our classes and curricula that don't quite make it to fruition. We're forced to finish; the growth of our kids, the movement of time — these things are tyrants, benevolent or not.
And so, not with the authority of Jesus but instead with the tired satisfaction of an imperfect artist, I say, “It's done. Finished. Tetelestai.”
Expect me in your inbox more often as a result, dear colleague.
P.S. Here's the penultimate manuscript, rife with annotations.