I'm staying on top of a hill at a resort in Gatlinburg. And when I say hill, I mean hill. You could, perhaps, even call it a small mountain. Well, if you were familiar with western mountain ranges like the Rockies or the Cascades you probably wouldn't, but here you could. Also when I say we're at the top of the hill, I mean at the top.
The first day we were here, my friend Linda and I decided we would walk all the way down to the resort lobby and then back up again. Amazingly enough we made it the whole way, with multiple stops to "see the view" (ie, rest). The next day we set off again and made it about 2/3 of the way up before flagging down a golf cart to take us the rest of the way. (The resort runs golf carts and shuttles up and down the hill a gazillion times a day, because, trust me, most people do not want to walk up the hill. They are the smart people.) My legs and butt were so sore I simply couldn't go any farther!
But later on that day, we hiked to Laurel Falls, a popular destination here in the Great Smokies. The last thing I wanted was more uphill walking, but sure enough the trail climbed steadily. Thank goodness for small favors, it was a low grade and an easy hike. (And beautiful!) But still my legs complained a bit. And my ego? That Voice that hates change, hates challenge, wants, at all costs to protect me? It was screaming about how much it hated this latest hike. (You should have heard it when I was walking up the resort hill. Oh, mama it was cranky.) The Voice wanted only one thing: for the hike to be over.
And then I had an epiphany. This is why we do it. For the challenge of the moment, for being present with the aches and pains and discomforts. Not for having done it. Not for sitting around the fire later and talking about it. For this. For this moment in all its challenges (which, in this case, were very minimal. But the Voice doesn't care.) Because, later, when sitting around talking about it, you might actually find yourself wishing you were back there in the moment doing it.
Of course, I related this immediately to writing. There's a common saying about certain people you may meet along the way: the don't want to actually write, they want to have written. So true, so true. But those people are missing the wonder of the pain of the moment. Of sticking with a scene even when its not working exactly right, of continuing to work on your novel even when you have no idea if it will ever sell. I could come up with a million more examples, but you already are familiar with them.
So remember this next time you are in the middle of a writing session and things aren't going so well: this is why we do it. For all of it, the good, the bad, the pain, the joy. And just keep going.
Photo of Laurel Falls by Zhans33, from Wikipedia.