Every once in a while when I am between projects for too long (in this case I just wrapped up a giant revision and have been submitting some things and working through the business end of the writing process, as opposed to the writing end), I have a terrified moment where I actually stop and think about what I do-- that is, write-- and realize I have no idea HOW I'm doing it.
How does one go about bringing a whole entire world to life? Or forget a whole world, maybe just one character? And where do you BEGIN? It's an incredibly tall order when I stop and think about it for too long. Incredibly intimidating, too. What gives me the right? And how do I order these words on a page to make it into something more than just... words on a page? What makes my words into people and places and things and laughter and sorrow? And what am I supposed to write next?
That's really the most terrifying part, maybe. I have a moment where I forget my list of things I want to write next, and stare at the computer thinking "if someone asked me to start writing, I would not know what to do." It isn't that I don't remember how to put a sentence together, it's that for that brief horrifying moment, all the ideas I had for future projects have vanished, and I am left a writer without a story. And what is a writer without a story? Can that person even be called a writer anymore?
It never lasts. Even now as I'm writing this, I'm remembering all the projects I've been meaning to work on. A scene for a book I've given up on publishing, but want to insert because I love it. Pirithous, of course, because we cannot give in and let Pelagia win. The Bronze Age Norse book, for which I have notes staring at me from a whiteboard on the wall. And the experimental nano novel that needs to be rewritten, about my poor Evelyn trapped in the psych ward during the world wars. To name just a few.
It takes a certain amount of hubris to think I have the chops to pull any of this off. Being a writer plays at being a god. Just like Tolkien said.