If you've ever thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, you'll understand what I mean.
Think of a northbound thru-hike: six months of backpacking, starting in north Georgia and finishing at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. (I hiked southbound, but just forget that for a moment.)
The beginning of the hike is hard, but you're so excited about being a thru-hiker that it doesn't matter. Your enthusiasm, to a great degree, carries you along, through any of the hard parts.
The ending is exciting--particularly when you get to New Hampshire and get into the BIG mountains again.
The middle is ... not so exciting. You're tired. Mile after mile after mile. Day after day after day. The scenery in Virginia is beautiful, but Virginia goes on and on forever. Then you get to West Virginia and Maryland--still beautiful, but not spectacular the way the rugged southern Apps were. Then you get to Pennsylvania, where you hike on sharp-filed rocks for several weeks, dodging rattlesnakes and hiking a mile downhill from the shelter, just to get water for the evening. And it's hot.
You can't see the beginning, and you can't see the end. You try to remember why you're out there. You think about Katahdin--your ultimate goal--but it doesn't seem real yet. It's not close enough.
Well, if the novel I'm writing were a thru-hike, I'd be somewhere in southern Pennsylvania. I have the satisfaction of knowing I've come a long way, but it still seems like light-years until I finish. And this is just the first draft. My enthusiasm is not at its highest. The novel has become a job, something I just have to get up and do every day.
I took a vacation from the novel, not intentionally, but between my freelance jobs and my bookstore job and my volunteer jobs, there has been no time. Now there's time.
It's 10:32 a.m. and I am procrastinating. This post, right now, is a procrastination tool.
I am four pages in to Chapter 16. Time to get writing. After I go to the bathroom and get some more coffee and finish biting my fingernails. Maybe by then I'll have another e-mail to read, or someone will call me on the cell phone.
Really. It's time to write.