Writing a book can be likened to taking a journey. You set out on a sunny day, full of hope and excitement, and if you’re lucky, the sun keeps shining and the path is easy to follow and runs straight and true.
More often, however, the sun gets occluded by clouds and heavy rain has you running for cover, ducking into a doorway to keep dry as you watch the path you were taking turn into a quagmire. It turns out that the cover you sought doesn’t actually keep that rain out, and soon it’s running down your back in cold rivulets and you start to shiver.
Then the sun comes out again, and you step out onto the path and into mud up to your ankles. Undeterred – the sun is shining, after all – you keep on. The going is slow, every step hindered by the squelching mud, but at least you’re going forward. Until you come to a fork in the road that wasn’t marked on the map. One way leads into a forest, the sun streaming down through the trees creating an interesting interplay of light and shadow. The other way stretches out across a barren plain with rocky, lichen-covered boulders here and there. The forest looks more inviting, but you think about the fairy stories about big bad wolves and lost children, so you take the other path.
Soon, you’re thirsty, tired and getting sunburnt. There is no shade, and the plain seems to stretch for miles in every direction. You wish you’d taken the forest path, for all it’s clichés and overblown characters. Too late. You’re on your own, and you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and hope that you get to the end, wherever that might be.
I’m currently in the middle of that plain. All around me are interesting looking boulders, some bigger than others, but boulders nonetheless. I scratch away at the lichen on one of them and look at what’s underneath. It’s rock. Same with the next, and the next. Rock, rock and more rock. What do I expect? Well, I was hoping for inspiration. A magical sign showing me the way to the end of the journey or a diamond that would dazzle and enchant me – something that I could take with me to show the world and say, “Hey, look what I found – let me tell you the story of where and how and why and when… all the way to THE END.”
But here I am, still on the plain, wandering from boulder to boulder, scratching away. I don’t believe in magic, and these are not the kind of rocks that diamonds are found in. I will have to keep wandering until I find my own way to the edge of the plain, to the end of the story.
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