I write the way I walk.
When I know where I’m going, every step is purposed. I am not easily distracted. My footfalls are metronomic. And when I get to my destination? I feel good. I feel capable. I feel smart. I treat myself to a cookie because I deserve it. Hey, every little accomplishment means something.
Most of the time I don’t know where I’m going.
I walk in circles. I take the easy path. The impossible path. I stare at a sidewalk crack. I climb a tree. I sit on a fence. I hide in a bush. I chase nervous rabbits. I pet rabid dogs. I look for messages in the sky. The dirt. The rain.
I walk slowly. I run to feel the wind. I stumble. Sometimes on purpose.
I see things. I miss things. I find things. I lose them.
I’m tentative. Awkward. Uncertain. Bold. Confident. Afraid.
I get lost. A lot.
But I keep walking.
I know authors who only know how to run. They plot their path and race to the finish line without looking back even once. They set absurd word count goals and then destroy them. They manufacture motivation when they can’t find it in a cup of coffee. They invite the muse at daybreak, but write anyway when she doesn’t show up. They complete one novel and start right away on another.
They are word warriors. They are finishers. They are the reason books get published.
They are my heroes.
(Sometimes I hate them.)
I’ve been walking for five years with my current novel. Many times I’ve come to the same place in the road – the fork that veers left and on to the end of the story. I know almost everything that sits along that path. It’s a good path. The novel is finished in my head. I’ve written it there to completion.
But my heart isn’t ready to write it down. I don’t know why. (And I do.)
Sometimes I listen to the other books that are waiting in my writing queue. They’re a restless bunch. They don’t like the way I walk. They want their turn.
How much longer? they ask.
I don’t know, I answer.
So I keep walking.
I’ll keep walking until I see the fork in the road, until I feel the ache in my heart, and until that ache becomes gravity and pulls me to the left. Then I might even run.
I don’t know.
Crap. There’s the fork now.