First, the thoughts pour into my head. I'll be doing something routine, like going to the grocery store, when a whole world suddenly starts to grow in my head. I see people taking shape. I see the pain in their hearts and the battles they have with one another. I am seduced by their stories. While the world around me continues its routine, I've been struck and fallen in love with a new story.
Like someone infatuated, I picture these characters day and night. Sometimes people are talking to me and thinking that I'm listening to what they are saying. But inside, I'm with my characters, experiencing their life through their eyes and going through emotional turmoil. I hurt with them, fall in love with them, sigh with them.
In my mind I bribe them with any present I can find, so they will tell me more of themselves. I give them attention. Then I sit down and write some pretty prose. I want everyone to understand how great they are through my story. Sometimes I get frustrated because my words don't live up to how wonderful they are in my head.
But I edit the story. I nurture it and change it until it lives up to its full potential. I pour my heart and soul into it. I become more intimate with the story than I become with most people I'll meet in my life time.
And then I give it to other people (critique partners and editors), so they'll give it plastic surgery. I thought it was pretty, but they slice into it and make it more beautiful than it ever was before.
Then with a sadness, I send the story out into the world and hope that someone falls in love with it the same way I did.
I've had a love affair with many books, some I've written and some are ones I read that other people wrote. There are few things more satisfying than meeting a book that touches your soul.