An elegant plume of white feathers, a sharp metal tip. The feather quill dips into the pool of black ink, then strokes the sheet of yellowed parchment. Shadows dance around the room as the candlelight flickers in the room and words dance on the page, filling it quickly. The concept of time has all but vanished, the only indication being the small pool of molten wax that has accumulated at the base of the candle, sitting on the wooden desk.
I pause the YouTube video I'm watching. That's way too much work just for writing, I muse to myself as I open a new Word document on my desktop. The familiar blue border at the top of the screen and the blank, white page fills me with a second of calm that is replaced with anxiety as I contemplate what I'm going to write about.
My inner dialogue sounds something like this:
Maybe I should write about...-wait, is there any leftover milk in the refrigerator? No, I don't think so, but maybe I should just check. ...No, I'm trying to brainstorm ideas right now. Should I start off with a narrator, or should I...go back and check the refrigerator to see if I can make coffee with the milk that may or may not be there?
After several distractions, I finally return to the Word document. There's not a fleshed-out concept, typically, but a series of ideas or concepts or characters that I want to write about that I've thought about. The best way I can describe it as is: walking through a fog. You're holding on to something. You can feel the outline of that 'something.' You have a vague idea of what it is. But you can't make out the finer details of it. And, you have no idea where the fog begins and where it ends. You don't know when you will ever (if you will ever) be able to escape the fog.
(And, if you are still following the highly captivating inner dialogue I illustrated above, yes, I did find milk in the refrigerator and I did make coffee with it.)
While the first sentence, paragraph, or page is agonizing to write, once the concepts get clearer, the writing gets faster, the plot is revealed, the fog lifts a little, and the clacking on my keyboard gets so loud that it is unbearable for anybody within 50 miles of me.
It doesn't always work out that way, however. Sometimes, that clarity, that lifted fog, that moment never comes. And when that happens, either I abandon the writing, or I just keep on going, searching for that moment.
Writing is a process. A process that ends with me looking back at my writing and thinking, Wow. This is horrible, and a process that starts all over again, on another blank Word document.