It means waking at 2 AM because you’re trembling with a thought you dreamed. Taping three-foot long sheets of newsprint over the walls of your study (even across the door) so you can keep track of a narrative. Scouting a cafe with superior air conditioning for those 100-degree plus summer mornings (mornings!) when you just need to absquatulate from your attic. Leaving your family with two dogs, three chickens, your mother who complains she never gets to see you, and a child who says his arms are so tired that if he picks up the violin to practice they’ll fall and break–all so that you can be “on a writing retreat”. The pressure is exquisite. Writing is a solitary vice, perhaps the solitary vice, as novelist and friend Charles Flowers once noted.
Why do we do it? For the pleasure when the sentence finally glides into place with a subtle click, or because the dialogue still makes you cry the third time you read it, or because your audience looked away but one person said he’d remember.