Sometimes, writing is coffee and book covers and words that roll off the fingers like a mountain shedding snowmelt to make way for spring.
And sometimes, writing is trudging on through dust and heat and still typing away, even when inspiration is far away and putting words on the page feels like prying rocks from the heart of the earth with your bare hands.
And sometimes, writing is late-night typing when the muse finally hits after days of silence, and so of course you’re going to keep pounding the keys until 2:30 AM and beyond, even though you had hoped to log off around midnight and get some sleep. But the muse is talking—at last, she’s talking!—so you down another cup of coffee—or three—and keep on typing.
And sometimes, writing is scrapping chapters—yes, whole chapters—that you have agonized over for days because they still aren’t working, and somehow you need to get back to the basics because the whole thing has become such a muddled mess on the page and in your brain that even you have forgotten what is supposed to be happening.
And sometimes, writing is realizing that the characters all sound the same, and you thought you knew them, but do you really? Because, somehow, in the last chapter you mixed up three character names, and if even you can’t keep them straight, no reader is going to be able to. They aren’t really characters at all, only cardboard props that populate your scenes, and they have no heart. No heart. How do you give them heart?
And sometimes, writing is typing so fast your fingers feel like they’re going to fly away with you! All is going beautifully, the prose is singing, the story is winging, and the characters are forging onward to glory … and you lurch to a stop on the edge of a glaring plot hole and nearly tumble headlong into the cavern. And then you have to backpedal, gasping for breath, and collapse at a safe distance away, and wonder how in the world you got here, when it all seemed to be going so well.
And sometimes, writing is the fear that strikes to the heart when you think of those chapters you scrapped, those heartless, cardboard characters, and that gaping chasm of a plot hole that you still can’t figure out how to get around, and you wonder if you have any skill at all.
And sometimes, writing is scrolling back a few chapters to read a previously written scene, and feeling that glorious warmth that spreads through your chest as you realize that all may not yet be lost and that there may be some good in this story yet.
And sometimes, writing is stumbling across a line, a paragraph, a word that gives you a glimpse beyond the page to the heart of the character you’re trying to portray and you want to leap from your seat because it’s there, it’s there, there’s a heart to be found after all.
And sometimes, writing is sitting on the edge of that gaping plot hole, and tipping your head upside down and walking on your hands, for a moment, instead of your feet, and in that moment of upside down perspective, the world shifts, and the pieces fall into place, and you surge to your feet ready to launch the story in a direction you had never before considered.
And sometimes …
Writing is all of that in one day, and you close your computer at last, ignore the single-digits on the hour slot of the clock, and tumble into bed, exhausted and restless and satisfied all at the same time. And you wake later that morning, down a cup of coffee—or three—and begin again.
Because that is writing.
And the writing life is the life for me.
If all of this terrifies you, but you want to be a writer anyway, because there are stories within you begging to be told, characters that must come to life in your imagination, and themes that grip you by the heart and won’t let go, then maybe it’s the life for you too!