A friend of mine loves romance--absolutely palpitates over the thrill of the chase, the "love 'em, love 'em not" uncertainty. She's also the woman who wants a man in her life, just not in her house, so she's a tad wishy-washy in her relationships, often giving up on them before the real trials ensue. She also moans quite often that she has no sustaining relationships other than with her nail technician, hair dresser, and therapist.
I personally love beginnings, even though I usually find myself flat on my back, falling down after taking those first baby steps, even though I've taken them before. There's something endearing about fresh starts, where I seem to give myself more permission to fail and try again than I do at the middle juncture or the grand finale, so I fully sympathize with my flighty friend's enthrallment with blossoming attraction.
Beginnings hold promise and excitement, adventures not yet taken, fantasies about to be revealed. They're still so new that they haven't lost their beckoning glitter of potential.
Why is it, I've often wondered, though, do we writers grant ourselves more leeway with beginnings, torture ourselves at high noon on the wheel of creativity, and then panic towards the end? Is it because we like packing our luggage and setting off for the journey more than we do camping out and battling the elements our minds create once we're half-way "there"?
Are we that fickle in our intellectual marriage to our muse that we're tempted to cheat, once the sheen of the honeymoon is behind us, to ditch last week's book of our heart to look elsewhere for something more interesting to write? Do we not trust the foundation we established enough to continue the trip? What is it about writers who hate the drudge, much like my glamour puss friend who can't bear the thought of wading through someone else's emotional bullshit, much less her own?
It's the middle, the fork in the road, the indecisions, the tests, the drama queen angst that grip a reader and compel them to continue reading. So why isn't it more interesting and intriguing for writers to roll up their shirtsleeves and dig into the muck they've created, to see if they can find those diamonds in the dustbin, as Virginia Woolfe calls them?
Then there are those who flip-flop between hating an approaching ending, not willing to release the magic of their journey, and those who run screaming towards it without tying up loose ends. They're only too happy to see light at the end of the tunnel and know it's not an oncoming train. They're sick to death of the people taking the trip with them and can't wait to shake the dust from the road off of their shoes.
I've just completed a 4 & 1/2-week writer's journey from hell. It was thrilling at first, scary mid-way, and heinously a torture towards the end, because I knew I "had to get home" and get there quickly. Deadlines are a bitch. Yet I look back at the entire adventure and smile, worn out, happy to have given it my all, equally happy to release the past and enjoy what I've created.
It's a lot like giving birth...we forget the pain all too quickly, especially when we feel we've missed important moments, skipped over tender touches and miraculous discoveries. The thrill of seeing the fruits of our labors crush us with both joy and regret.
The good news is that we can still give birth to our children of the mind, over and over again. We can see each stage of the journey for what it is--necessary. Maybe putting it all into that perspective will free us to enjoy the experience more each time we pass through it.