I've long said that the act of writing, whether a short story, a novel, or a poem, is like giving birth. The only difference between the three is the length of gestation.
There is the initial orgasmic ecstasy of a new idea, of plot twists and characters imbued with meaning and perhaps layers of symbolism. There is the period of morning sickness, of wondering what the hell I've gotten myself into and isn't there a more qualified writer to manifest this idea into reality?
There are those first kicks, proof that the idea is developing a life of its own, that ultimately the story will leave the womb and make its way into the world. At times, the story leaves me fatigued and heavy, a beached whale that can barely string two words together while having to pee every thirty minutes.
And finally, after what seems like a lifetime of feeding off me like a literary parasite, and at the same time not nearly enough time together, it's ready to be born, accompanied by sweat and copious tears and possibly some blood.
Nursed through marketing efforts, it soon can stand on its own, garnering the strength to stand up to bullying critics, to make new friends, to find its place in the world.
Until a new idea hits with white-hot passion and my toes curl with the sheer joy of telling another story that can touch someone else's heart.