...has been thrown down.
The next time I submit to my critique group, my first draft will be finished.
Part of the reason I can't finish the book is that I have lost the focus of my original vision; I have been distracted by other shiny possibilities and strayed off the path. Or maybe subconsciously I think that if I don't finish it I don't have to face this product that is so far from what I imagined in my head. If I hold on to the fact that "I am still writing the story" I can still salvage what has become an unwieldy mess in my mind.
But my critique group, patient saints though they all are, has had enough of my 40 years of wandering, and has given me the command: finish the thing, and do so by September.
It's time. Enough. The end is near.
I accept the challenge. (Or suffer the consequences at this gauntlet.)