Each time I begin a new book, I tell myself, "This one is going to be just for fun. It'll be a quicker one. I'm not going to take it as seriously. It'll just be a quick fun write, that's all." I suspect I'm bluffing, but I think I have to convince myself that this time will be easier or I would be too afraid to ever begin a first draft.
Once I get into it, of course, I feel utterly constrained by the story to find it and tell it as truly as possible, which means months and years of often torturous work. It's happening again with forest born. I want to believe "this is just a fun little story I'm going to whip out" but it's already turning into a wrestling match. Yeesh.
Sometimes I really question my decision to pursue writing. Now it's pursuing me. I'm running for my life. Writing a novel is not for sissies. As Robin McKinley said, it takes "gumption" to finish a book. I like to think of myself as having gumption. I like to feel proud of myself for not shying away from the work and terror of first-draft-dom, but right now I only feel pure stark terror. That blank page staring at me with its unforgiving white eye. It's enough to make a person believe she's living in a horror story. Don't go down into the cellar, Shannon! Don't go down into the cellar!
Still...I love it, too. I love words. That's the essence. And I love story. When I get pangs of desire to write, what I most immediately want to do is create a sentence, to find words and put them together that makes a mood, an image, a feeling. And I want to return to characters that I care about and see where they are now. And I want to find a scene that will take my breath away. Words. Characters. Scenes. I look at the book in these small, accessible parts. No one can write a book. It's too long and complicated. But I can make some sentences. I can find some characters. I can put them into scenes. And slowly, slowly, the book will come.