I’m not entirely sure why I write.

It’s not because it comes easy, the words flowing like warm honey the way they do for some. It’s not because it’s fun, as there are few things lonelier than sitting at a desk on a cold, gray January day, with nothing but a blank page to keep you company. And it’s not because I “can’t imagine doing anything else,” as so many others say. I can imagine doing other things. I can imagine teaching. I can imagine barista-ing. I can imagine dog walking.

But then there are days when it does come easy. When the words do flood the page and the story arcs and the characters motivate and the plot thickens and the love—because I write romance, so there is always love—blossoms. And I think to myself, This. Is. So. Cool.

And there are days when it is fun. When the words unstick themselves. When the characters sparkle. When things surprise me on the page and I think to myself, I wrote that? Holy cow. I wrote that.

And, of course, there are days when I marvel at how I conjured this life. This work. I think back on that day when 16-year-old me scribbled on some silly piece of paper for some long-forgotten high school career-day project that my dream job was “romance novelist.” And now... I have that job. I do that work. And on those days I think, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

But the answer to why I write doesn’t live in those days. It lives in the days when I set pen to paper despite it being neither easy, nor fun, nor the only thing I can imagine doing. It lives in the days when the words are a challenge and the story is muddled and the craft is shoddy at best because it is in moments of challenge when we find all the most valuable things in our world. Things like truth and joy and love.

And I cannot shake the feeling that if I write very hard, I might catch a glimpse of them.

Sarah MacLean is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in New York City with her husband, their dog, and a ridiculously large collection of romance novels.