I finished my last book project several months ago, and I don’t like to leap into my next until it has simmered sufficiently in my creative pot. In the meantime there are blogs to write, and videos to edit, and calls to my agent and all the other business of being a writer/editor/interviewer. Finally, it was time to start the next, and always there is the slow beginning, like a competitive cyclist taking the first uneven, momentum-building rotations to start his race. Eventually, I get going full-speed, and once I am there I remember that as much as I like to write these columns, and interview writers, and edit videos, for me there is still no creative experience that can match being in the middle of a book. I say remember because I really do forget. My last memory of a book is always my clearest, and every book ends with the same fussy tidying anything that size requires, just as the painter stands back again, and again, and again from his canvas until with a mixture of exhaustion and a little disappointment declares it finished.
Once I am in the middle I recall that same sentiment echoed by so many of the writers I have interviewed. There is so much that is nice about being a writer: making your own schedule, meeting your readers, being paid to do this thing you would certainly do for free. But none this, not the awards or the advances or the reviews, can match the act of writing itself. To be in the middle of a book, to leave the desk when you can still feel the writing you will do tomorrow, to carry that feeling of the book with you, wondering what the feeling will become in words the next morning, is as complete a pleasure as I have ever known.
Oh, the complaining we will do in between such pleasure. Oh, the worrying and uncertainty, the bad reviews, the missing readers. As if this job were forced upon us by an unseen hand. Perhaps it was. Perhaps this is why it puzzles and pleases us so. Every story reaches some crux of momentum and uncertainty, where the ride accelerates at every turn, and as a writer you know the only way forward is to pray for more speed, and so you lower your head, and learn once again what faster really feels like.
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