All writers, I suppose, have parts of the process that they love and others that they dread. For me, the dreaded part is getting from the raw idea stage to the place where I know enough about the story to begin writing. I’m at that place now with my WIP (work-in-progress, for the uninitiated).
I feel as if I’m standing at the edge of a precipice, with a great abyss yawning at my feet. On the other side of the abyss are the words “Chapter One” and everything that will follow them. In my hands I hold the shining sphere that is my perfect idea–perfect because I haven’t yet begun to flesh it out, a process that will inevitably tarnish it and bend it out of true. For now, it consists of a thousand thousand glittering strands, each one whole and precisely arced, none crooked or frayed or left hanging; and the whole sphere glows like a little sun, made in the image of the real sun as I am made in the image of the Creator.
My job is to build a bridge across the chasm at my feet: a bridge built on piles of research, with solid girders of story structure, paved with living planks of character development, knit together by a vivid sense of place, guided in its arc by a theme that pierces to the heart of truth. But I have to build this bridge one-handed, by the light of the shining sphere of my idea, which I must hold aloft at all times—for if it once touches the ground, it will vanish into dust.
And then, when at last the bridge is complete, I have to step out in faith that it will hold. And here’s the kicker: I cannot carry the sphere across the bridge. I have to throw it over the abyss, and run across the bridge in time to catch it on the other side.
So you see, it’s not an easy task, this bridging, but one fraught with perils on every side. It’s a wonder, really, that anyone ever accomplishes it. And in fact, the sides of the abyss are snowy with the dust of ideas that did not survive the journey. Several of my own have ended there because their bridges wouldn’t hold.
But this sphere that I hold now really needs to make it across. So pray for me, my friends, and for all the bridge-builders of the world–for it is only the spheres that survive the journey that will ever be visible to any but their creators. And the world would be very much poorer without them.