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Writing a Book is Like Falling in Love

The first morning you write a lot. Maybe ten pages. They are glorious. The best you ever did. This new partner brings magic into your life. The two of you have a brilliant future together. This is all you ever dreamed of.  You are completely satisfied.

You take a nap. You wake up. What the hell - you write another ten pages the same afternoon, and after a sturdy meal of pasta, you are at it again.

“I can’t get enough of you,” you say. “Together, we do things I have never done before.”

The feeling in your gut tells you that this time will be different. There will be no heartbreak. This love will last.

You write for a week. Maybe for two weeks. Your friends don’t recognize you.

“You look exhausted,” they say.

“Never felt better,” you answer.

“Don’t you get any sleep?”

“Love is all you need,” you reply, thinking about last night.

The word count passes ten thousand. Who would have thought that ten weeks ago you were lonely?

We have to go public with this marvelous thing that has happened - must tell the world. You try to explain to your doubting friends.

“What’s the rush?” they ask.

Your friends are jealous - it’s as simple as that. Who doesn’t envy true love?

Another week goes by. The word count isn’t quite as high as last week, but it’s okay, everyone has a down period once in a while.

You look at your partner and you begin to worry.

For the first time in your relationship you are not up to it. It’s nice, but some sleep would be better. Or a movie. Or vacuuming. This place is a mess.

“I’m in love,” you tell yourself. “I am in love.”

You call your friends who are happy to hear from you. You haven’t been in touch lately. They ask about your partner and you hear in your voice that the thrill is gone. You find the things you thought brilliant when you first met now feel like your greatest problems. Maybe your partner is in the present tense. So alive, you thought.

Now you think: Shallow. Your partner stays in the now, and no lessons are learnt from the past. Not only that – the future is forgotten.

You lie awake at night; you breathe but feel out of breath. You realize that you will never fulfill your dreams. You don’t have it in you. You are not a writer. You are not a lover. Desperate you search in your shared past: What was it in the beginning that made you feel so good?

You flip through the first pages of your love story and the feeling returns. Yes, this is what it was all about. This is good. You feel thankful. You wake your slumbering love and you caress, you touch gently; you don’t need it all at once, because you have realized that love is fragile, that you have to work hard at your relationship.

And if you do, if you give it all you have, then maybe, just maybe, this will last a lifetime.

/Augustin Erba