It's easy to think up plots and come up with good characters. I could do that all day long. But getting it down on paper in a way that lets a reader imagine the same thing you see in your own brain… well, that's something else, again. Because words don't always mean the same things to people.
I admit I often piggyback on things I already know people feel strongly about. It's sort of a shortcut to their feelings, and once you start using shortcuts, it's hard to go back to taking the long way round, again. Thing is, you miss a lot of refreshing scenery by skipping that. Like a new way to describe how ocean air feels against your face in a fog. Or that horrible lurch in the pit of your stomach when you realize you've said something you can never take back, again. But there can be misunderstandings when you're trying on phrases, or describing things in new ways, too.
Like the blind men describing the elephant, every one of them was convinced what an elephant was like (a tree, a wall, a rope, a snake…) it had to be true because they could feel it. They were all right and they were all wrong. And while everyone will tell you that writing is so subjective you can't expect to please everybody, it seems to me that every once in a while, a writer comes along who manages to touch some universal chord in human hearts. And suddenly you find yourself loving it, too, even though you didn't even know you were interested in that subject before. Somehow, they figured out how to transfer that perfect picture from one brain to another.
They took the long way, and described so well what it was like over there that we felt like we had been there, too. But of course, we first had to be convinced to go along on the journey in the first place. Which takes a whole lot of persuasive skill all by itself, not to mention a good handle on which tools one might use to accomplish that. A real in-depth knowledge of the craft.
So, a writer sits there day after day, night after night, working over and over working… all without any guarantee that so much as a monkey would even give a blip what they just poured a year of their life into. Sometimes I wonder what keeps writers writing. Especially when it's hard.
For me, it's because I love it.