I wonder how this works for everybody else, but when I get excited about a project, what I'm usually excited about is a collection of individual moments. Big scenes, quirky exchanges. When I write the book, I'm usually racing toward those cherished scenes because I can't wait to get that moment down just the way I saw it in the beginning. And to be fair, in lots of cases, these scenes stay preserved through many, many rewrites because they are the heart of the book.
But of course, this is also a problem.
Some people live in the future and wish away their lives. Others dwell in the past, unable to grow beyond their own histories. But only the truly enlightened live in the moment.
I suppose this is true for writers also, and writers who dwell in the past write slow-paced, introspective books, and writers who are always rushing toward the future race headlong past the intimate, small moments that give a story authentic texture. The only way to write—to live, perhaps—is to force yourself to live in that moment.
So I've been rewriting, and as I do, I'm going painstakingly slow. I'm asking of each moment, "What information do you present? What's really going on here?" Because there really isn't such a thing as a nondescript, meaningless minute of life. Even the boring afternoons, whittled away on housework, are about something. The writer's job is to edit the story down to a collection of these meaningful moments, leaving enough to breathe life into our characters and their stories.
This is a challenge for a writer like me; I'm always in a hurry to get to the next fantastic set piece. But maybe it's the difference between a book full of fun, somewhat sterile ideas and one that resonates as truth.