I know now what it’s really like. I’m writing my fifth novel, and the whole experience is a tight belt around my chest. But even so, if I’ve written nothing in several days, I can still conjure those romantic images of writing. A café, cup of coffee with a foamy topper, shiny laptop. Or a sturdy wooden desk, comfortable leather chair, fantastic view of water beyond the window. A breeze and birdsong. Words flowing easily while laundry tumbles and something good bakes in the oven.
The idea of writing a novel is a powerfully dreamy one – unless I’m actually writing, that is.
I have never typed a single word in a café. I don’t have a thick wooden desk. Or a view. Usually I’m sitting on the floor of my room, back against a cold wall, overheating laptop balanced on my knees. I mumble as I write dialogue, and I make curious facial expressions or flap an arm as my characters react to situations. My hands spend a lot of time stuck in my hair. If I have them, I’ll eat caramels– the hard ones that fix my teeth together so much it hurts to open my jaw.
I tend to write late at night, and I’m generally exhausted, my eyes irritated. At any given time, I may have too many ideas, fingers snaking out in different directions, or my mind may be completely void of inspiration. Sometimes, sometimes, I lower my head, and time skips, kissing the surface, and when I look, I see a portion of my story. Arrived on my screen as though by magic. Then, when I stand up, blood rushes into my legs, and I feel dizzy. Sometimes queasy. And I’ll go to bed, but my troubled characters are just getting started, and have no need for the silence I crave.
Writing is a harsh jolt. Though somehow, if I take a few days away from it, the discomfort fades. I remember the rare moments of enchantment. The dreaminess. And I strive to get back to it.