A vision pops into your head and you know there’s more and it’s miraculous and brilliant, you can feel it right there, just beyond your fingertips.
You start writing it down – and the work starts. Because somehow the words on the page (or the screen, in my case) never match the vision in your head, never fully capture it. That doesn’t matter at first – the visions keep coming, images and vivid moods that you struggle to get down before they fade.
Which, inevitably, they begin to do. That’s where the commitment comes, over and over and over. You have to get up every morning and add something to the pile of dry tinder you’ve collected, hoping to find something that’ll eventually catch fire. Every once in a while, a little something does and that sustains you through months of sticks and dry leaves, of sitting in front of that empty screen and hoping for something better than you’re getting.
Commitment is the day you look at three months work and think ‘Okay, this doesn’t work,’ throwing it all out and starting over. Commitment is when you realize with gut-churning clarity that the whole thing is a crock of shit and you’ve thrown away two years of your life – and then go back to writing it the next morning.
And then somewhere toward the end, you start clearing away the driftwood, everything that isn’t absolutely crucial and all kinds of little moments start to come together in ways you never anticipated; the characters suddenly aren’t wooden and stupid, they start acting and speaking for themselves and having marvelous insights that couldn’t possibly have come from you. At this point, commitment is doing whatever is necessary to keep up. You fly through that last major rewrite thrilled and terrified, eating badly and digesting worse, getting palpitations in the afternoon and not sleeping well at night and promising yourself you’ll never do this ever again – you’ll be way more organized next time.
And then a vision pops into your head…