“Anyone can begin being an Unfinishedist; it takes a true master not to finish… Actually, it’s kind of a Catch 22.”  Reed A Raymond, founder of Unfinishedism

The following is an excerpt from an unfinished story by Reed A Raymond, in which we see the inception of Unfinishedism.


…I’m a full time student at the California State University in San Francisco, but I will probably remain a full time student for the indefinite future. This is partially because of indecision regarding my major and mostly because of a fear of the mounting loans I will be faced with upon graduation. I’m quietly plotting a revolution, after which a new government will be implemented, thus wiping out all traces of my debt to the current one. This is by no means an original idea. Take for example the Boxer Rebellion in China, when the people decided to kill all their teachers and burn all their ancient texts. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that cultural revolutions are often started by students.

         If this plan fails, I figure I’ll just stay in school my whole life. My children can inherit my debt.

         I have been fluctuating between declaring an Archeology major or a Psychology major because the major I really want isn’t available. I’m not even sure it exists. It’s my goal in life to become an Archaeopsychologist. I want to be on the History Channel saying what the Neanderthals thought when Cro Magnon man came and kicked their asses, and how the Celts felt when they were being raped and pillaged by the Vikings. I think my interest in the inner workings of the minds of early mankind may be a product of my noble ancestry. Maybe if I can learn to understand my ancient predecessors, I will understand myself.

         When I joined October outside the cafe, he was impressed to hear that I had set up a date with Lisa for that Friday. I left out the part about forgetting to introduce myself, and stretching the truth about my major; it would only reinforce his idea that I’m hopeless with women.

         He asked me if I wanted to go to a Salsa club with him, but I forewent the offer, citing a ten-page Anthropology paper as my excuse. October is an avid ballroom dancer, and is convinced that everyone else is too, they just haven’t come out of the closet yet. It’s impossible to go anywhere with him without being danced on, over, and through. He loves it, though, and I envy his focus. Girls love focus. They also love ballroom dancers. It’s not that I’m an incapable dancer, I know a move or two, I just don’t like the pressure of asking girls to dance, and having to come up with an interesting lead. It puts me to sleep.

         So instead, I returned to my little apartment in the Presidio with the intention of pretending to work on my paper. The paper was due Thursday; it was Tuesday night. This meant I had a good 32 hours before I had to get started on it.

         Like most college students, I’m a chronic procrastinator. Every semester I say it’s going to be different, and I start off doing all the reading and all the assignments as soon as they are given. The deepest into the semester I have ever kept this up was thirteen days, at which point I decided to reward myself with a snowboarding trip to Tahoe. From that point on, every assignment was at least two days late.

         Incredibly, despite my habitual procrastination and chronic late work, I’m maintaining a 3.83 GPA. I’ve been able to achieve this because, what I am lacking in social skills, I more than make up for with classroom etiquette. You might call me Teacher’s Pet, but I like to think it’s the other way around.

         This habit of being a stronger starter than finisher extends to more than just my academic career. I have always considered myself artistically inclined. It’s not my natural ability that’s the problem, though, it’s my motivation. My lack of motivation might be a more appropriate phrase. I love oil painting and have even been told that I’m good at it by people who would know. Unfortunately, the people who’ve tried to encourage me haven’t had much to go by. There are about thirty-five half painted canvases stacked in my room, some with just rough sketches painted in, others featuring disembodied heads floating over a lightly penciled in body. 

         Frustrated by my inability to finish a painting before losing interest, I turned to photography. I go everywhere with my camera, shooting anything that catches my eye. I would like to think I’m as good at photography as I could be at oil painting, but it’s unlikely I’ll ever find out. I have several shoeboxes full of undeveloped film in my closet, and no money to develop it. At this point it would cost a small fortune to do anything about it, so I’ve started making other plans.

         I’m trying to start a movement; an artistic revolution. I call it Unfinishedism. While my chief motivation is financial rather than artistic, I feel this fact can be overlooked because of my immense contribution to the artistic community. Not only will my sizable body of work be entered into the annals of art history, but countless other struggling, unmotivated artists like myself will have the opportunity to achieve the status of master, rather than settle for a life of obscurity and welfare.

         And, like any great master, I live my artistic vision. It doesn’t look like I’m ever going to finish school. I never eat all the food on my plate. And when it comes to finishing my sentences… My friends refuse to play Scrabble with me out of frustration. I typically start the game off with a scrabble, playing all seven tiles on the double word square. This scrabble is followed by a five or six tile word worth twenty or thirty points. From there my game disintegrates into a series of monosyllabic words worth five points at best, at which time I remove myself to my room and begin a painting, leaving the others to finish the game without me.

         I’m thinking about taking my body of work down to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. In a way it would run contrary to the very heart of the movement, thus undermining my artistic integrity. Alas, like the masters of yore, I fear I am doomed to a life of poverty until my death, at which point my movement will be free to catch on. At least I’ll have a legacy to pass on to my children. They’ll need it to take care of my school loans…


Taken from an untitled work, started in 2001.

Leave a Comment

Your comment

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.