I realize that today is about red hearts, roses, nice dinners, and boosting Hallmark's bottom line in the middle of winter... Our wedding anniversary was a few days ago, and we generally fuse the two lovey-dovey days together. Trust me, I'll buy Rose some sugar-free chocolate.
But this post is about another kind of love. Big projects (like writing a novel) take a lot of love and time. One blast at a time, one brush stroke at a time, one word at a time.
I get asked a lot about how I write. Honestly, it's a little bit every day. That's the secret, the magic--it's showing up every day and writing something, anything, down on the page, then going back (either the next day or when the project is done, whatever works) and rewriting and editing that work.
There's no way I can know ahead of time what's going to appear on each page--which means that I am not an outliner, at least a deep outliner. I usually know where I'm going, three or four chapters ahead, in the story and that's all. Really, that's all I want to know.
Somebody once said that writing a novel was like driving at night, you can only see as far as your headlights shine. I think that's right, at least for me. Everybody's process is different, mine works for me. Still, I can't imagine writing a novel all at once. It seems impossible, just like carving Crazy Horse out of the side of a mountain.
Big projects take time, patience, persistence, the willingness to fail, and a deep belief in yourself-- that you have the ability and strength to finish the project. All of those attributes add up to love. You really have to love the work, the character, the story, something, anything, to keep coming back to it.
I write to find out happens next, just like a lot of readers read to find out what happens next. I always hope that translates.
Of course, when you finish a big project you want to start all over again. At least, I do...
This rock sits on my desk to remind me of the time big projects take. It's a rock from the Crazy Horse Monument that I picked up several years ago on visit there. It exists because of one blast, and the desire to continue on. It exists because of love.