To me, writing something – anything – is like putting together a 1000-piece puzzle. Without the picture on the box.
I start with a table full of tiny images, in a jumble. When I dump them on the table, they don’t look like anything but a pile of individual pieces. It’s not clear how they fit together. And the task looks impossible.
My first step is to scatter them all over so I can see each one. Pick apart the pile. Then I start to sort them. Like color with like color. Like pattern with like pattern. Even though they still don’t look like anything, I start to see images emerging. I start to feel how they might go together.
My second step is obvious: build the framework. It’s easier to find the pieces that fit along the edges, the ones that will house all the others. An outline. A structure for everything else to fall within.
And then I start to assemble the pieces. Individual words become phrases. Phrases become sentences. Sentences become paragraphs. The paragraphs begin to fit together and a picture starts to emerge. After a while, it starts to become more obvious where the loose, individual pieces should go. It starts to look like a whole.
The more you assemble, the more evident the picture is. And eventually, the clarity and beauty of the whole will emerge.
The only difference I can see between putting together a puzzle and putting together a piece of writing is that the writing is never done. Admit it, writers: if you could, you’d just keep taking out a few of those pieces and swapping them around to change the picture. Forever. Even if every piece was in the box and each fit into place.
It’s probably how that original artist felt, too, before someone carved the picture into a 1000 pieces and put it in the box to taunt the rest of us.