She sits at her computer, fingers flying over the keyboard. Words flow from her brain to her fingertips, magically appearing onscreen in the form of paragraphs, dialogue, and sketchy description.
She gets up to stretch and to cool her parched throat with a cool drink, and maybe a chocolate chip cookie or two. More words are swirling in her brain, encouraging her to write them down.
An hour passes; maybe more.
And suddenly, it's over. She's written 'The End'. But is it really? She stands up and stretches; even getting another snack. And reads over what she's written.
Oh my God...can it be? She loves it, feeling happy yet sad. Another 'perfect' story, one she's sure will bring joy and happiness to future readers. Time for a glass of wine and celebrate! Or even kick the kids out of the house in order to release some pent-up energy with her beloved and maybe even try out one of the bedroom scenes, to see if she got the details right. She insists on dinner out; this is a celebration. Culmination of the first phase of the journey.
Phase #2 is the email received several weeks later. "Here's your contract". Again, this is no time to cook. The family must take the ecstatic author-to-be out for dinner, and wine must be bought. Another celebration behind closed and locked doors, and she falls asleep, dreaming of adoring fans and checks arriving in the mail.
Phase #3 is after edits are completed. Yes, this stage has meant some teeth gnashing and threats made to family and friends who dare interrupt the 'think tank'; after all, only an editor can dare tell her 'this phrase could be worded better' or 'this ending sucks. I know you can do better than this!' Time for another fix...she sits down, shuts out LIFE and pulls from her brain a better word or phrase, and even gets snarky as she tries to finish her already 'perfect' ending. And suddenly, it comes to her! Hurrah! Finally done! More wine and chocolate is needed.
Phase #4: She receives her galley. Oh, it looks so pretty! The cover...the title...her name is on this book, which is about to be released soon! She spreads the word to friends and fans. Oh, she can't wait, and basks in the anticipation.
Phase #5: Release Day arrives. The phone rings off the hook; her inbox is loaded with congratulations. A party is planned; the family takes her out to dinner; more wine and chocolate are consumed. Her beloved wraps her in his arms and whispers, "I knew you could do it; I'm proud of you." She snuggles close, and dreams of being on Letterman.
Phase #6 is the interviews, the signings, and chats which follow, as people realize how wonderfully written the book is, and clamour for more. After a few weeks, the applause dies down and LIFE returns to normal again.
Phase #7 arrives in many forms: The first royalty check; the request for the next submission; fan mail.
Withdrawl symptoms can vary: Irritability; staring at empty monitor screen for hours; a clean house; taking long walks in hopes of jump-starting the creative process; depression and self-doubt.
But rest assured: Once the muse returns and the author is again pounding the keys in order to write as fast as the words can flow, the rollar coaster ride of life with an author will begin again.