You know what writing a novel is like?
Writing a novel is like running from New York City to Los Angeles, by yourself, on a private road that is lined from start to finish with arcades, movie theaters, shopping malls, liquor stores, and cozy libraries with comfortable couches. Also, there’s a limousine following you every step of the way, ready to take you home in an instant if you decide to quit.
The start is easy: you’re full of energy and motivation, your friends and loved ones are seeing you off with fanfare, you know where you’re going and how to get there, and there’s spring in your step.
The end is easy, too. Once you get past the 3/4 point of your run, you get all excited about getting close to the finish line, and it’s all downhill from there. That’s when you get your second wind.
The middle is the sucky part. That’s when you’re running through the narrative equivalent of Idaho or central Ohio. The rush from the start of your run has worn off, the finish is nowhere in sight, your feet are really starting to hurt, you only see endless fields of corn and the long road ahead, and the blinking attractions by the side of the road look more tempting to you than ever.
You know that just two hours of running a day will get you to L.A. in six months. It’s entirely up to you how to manage the run. You can run for ten minutes one day, and then goof off in the arcade or at the movies, and nobody’s going to mind. You can even skip entire days, or weeks, or months, and level up your paladin in World of Warcraft while sitting on your ass for three months in West Wendover, Nevada. At any point, you can say “screw this”, and get into that limousine for the ride home, and there will be no penalty.
Anyone who makes that run once a year voluntarily is certifiably insane, even when you don’t consider that most who do earn an hourly paycheck for the run that makes minimum wage look like a fortune.
But you know what? When you cross that finish line, it feels pretty damn good indeed.