There are times, when the work begins, when you're standing on the shore of an idea, fascinated by the glitter on the water. And so you wade in.
The first few steps are sometimes the easiest, sometimes the hardest. But once you've taken the first step, once you've got those early few words down, the next will follow, and the next, and the next, and you've finished the first chapter and you're up to your ankles in the story, and there's a way to the far shore, you know it. And you know in your heart you'll make it there.
Sometimes there's a slope down into the tale, sometimes the ground drops out from under you. Either way suddenly you're up past your knees, and you feel the current as the tale takes hold of you. You could fight, you know that. But the tale has a will and life of its own, a story that's set on telling itself even as you know it's yours.
And so you keep telling it, because you've come this far already, and it would be a shame to turn back when you've hardly started.
You press on, as the tale tugs at your feet, as the story winds its way through paths you chose and places you never thought to go. It's getting deeper now, and you're up to your waist in the story, watching the people you've created struggle and dance and play their parts through the world in your head, the world that's no longer only in your head. Their struggle is yours as well, whether you know it or not, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, because they came from you.
It's easy to lose track, the deeper you go. The story leads you on, but it's a greater journey than you ever intended, and there are times when you feel like you're losing your way. When you're up to your chest, arms high over your head to stay upright, doubts swirl around you and try their damnedest to pull you under. Every one of the characters you thought you knew is in trouble, some of them the cause of that trouble, and that first idea that seemed so clear is lost in the depths and winding itself around your legs, a weight dragging you down.
It would be easy to stop. To let yourself float away. Why fight for the shore, when there's current enough to sweep you downriver, to let you close your eyes and drift, so that when you awaken you're back where you began, and that promising shore on the other side, you can't even see it anymore. Like it was never there.
But that's not you.
So you'll dive in, plunge into the deepest part of your work, because no matter how much the characters fight it or what you find as you go, this story is yours, and you will make it work. You'll get yourself tangled in the knot of the final act, thrashing through your own tale, because even if you've drowned yourself in your own metaphor you will see this through to the end. One way or another, you'll find the strength, the breath, the will to see your work finished.
And in the end, you'll make it out. Soaked and struggling, fighting for every last word with the ending clenched between your teeth, you'll pull yourself onto the distant shore. And you'll know that what you've done is something nobody else could do. Your story, your words, your way of seeing the world that's never quite the same as anyone else's, you've pulled it out of yourself and given it life.
It's not perfect. But it's a part of you now, whole with its beginning, middle, and end, more than just the ideas you saw glimmering on the surface what seems like so long ago. And you'll look back at how far you've come, and know that it was all worth it.