When it’s just you and your manuscript in a tiny house for a week, both truth and lies are going to ricochet like crazy off those old walls and you know some barbs are going to get stuck in you. You’ll go from imagining your impending wild success to realizing that you’re a complete fraud. The only reassurances you can find are electronic—Facebook, texts. You drink them like water, but even then, you think what do these people know anyway?
This has been happening a lot lately, you think. This up and down, this rollercoaster. You’ve tried to tell yourself it’s just the writing life, the way things are. And to some extent, this really has to be true. But you’ve got to find some solid footing or you’re going to go insane.
So stand on this: you don’t write because you want to be published. You write because you love writing.
You love sounds and rhythms and the way words work. You love that challenge of finding that exact right word—the one you’ll know when you see it—and so you dive through the thesaurus and spin in circles until you finally find capacious or sentinel or intrepid and think yes, yes, that is the one. You love the characters and the way they take on their own personalities and force you to share the decision-making with them. You love the modicum of control you retain over the rest of it—the smells, the sounds, the setting. (Even if you can’t manage what your characters will do or say, you can still toss them onto a roof together or in a car wash or a parking ramp.) You love story. You love the way that truth sometimes is clearest in fiction. You love alliteration and imagery and all those uncontrollable verbs. You love the way one perfect line can steal your breath. You love that you get to be a little creator.
And you love the writing community—how it’s full of quirky, broken people who beat back the darkness by stringing words together. You love how you can understand one another, and how at one point or another, they all need to be reminded of the same thing you did this week.