The other day I was walking down a city street when I chanced upon a street performer, a juggler. I have always enjoyed watching juggling, and much admire the skill involved. (Readers may recall that Bear, in Crispin: the Cross of Lead, was a juggler.)
As I watched the juggler, she started with three red balls, added a couple more balls of other colors, and then brought in a club and a china plate. As she went on, she changed the objects, bringing in new things, until as a grand climax, everything was whizzing through the air. Then she plucked them out of the sky one by one—holding on to them all somehow—and bowed.
As I watched, it occurred to me that writing a novel is rather akin to a juggling act. All those characters, plot lines, physical entities whirling about, until it is all up the air—until the writer catches them all in series of deft catches.
As I watched, while the juggler smiled and seemed to be enjoying herself, she sweated. I could relate.