Yesterday my nephew got married.  It was a beautiful outdoor affair, simple and heartfelt.  As I listened to the bride and groom share their individually written vows, gazing into each other’s eyes with love and faith, I’ve got to admit I got a little bit teary-eyed.

Not because I’m a romantic, but because I know what these kids are up against. For better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. It rolls off the tongue so glibly when you’re twenty-something. You think all of those things are going to happen to somebody else. Your partner isn’t going to develop a drug addiction or a brain tumor or cancer.  He would never beat you, she would never sneak around with your best friend.  Your kids will be healthy and well adjusted and outlive you, you’ll never hurt for money, and every time you look at each other for the next 50 years you’ll feel this same uprush of love.

Right?

Wrong.

In my mind, playing like background music throughout the wedding, was a litany of all of the people I know, both as friends and clients, and the hard knocks life has thrown their way. Divorces, deaths, tragedies of every make and model. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a pessimist.  I love life, and I believe in marriage. But I also know the hazards that are out there.

And it occurs to me this morning, sitting here with my coffee and looking out over the town where I grew up so many years ago, that writing a novel is a lot like getting married.

Whether you’re the organized type who begins with an outline and every last detail in place, or the pantser who just dives in with nothing to sustain you but love for the story, you’ve just made a life changing commitment.  There are obstacles ahead.  There are days when you’ll wake up to discover that you have developed a loathing for this project you once loved. Obstacles will arise – plot problems, personality conflicts with your characters, questions of time and money. You’ll be tempted to stray by flashy ideas that seem to offer more promise. Many of us will ask, “what the hell was I thinking?”

A lot of writers will abandon their writing, beginning new stories over and over again, without ever completing a thing.

As it turns out, just like in marriage, love alone is not enough.  You have to believe in what you’re doing.  You have to be committed, and work at it, and show up on a regular basis to fulfill your obligations.  Sometimes you even need a little help from friends and professionals.

Commitment is what makes the difference – a willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed. That said, I think it’s time for me to show up at the page.

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