Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Hate This Part

I've been pounding away on The Looking Glass for a month now.  

Actually, I've been writing The Looking Glass for the past nine years- I learned to write with this story. Last year, however, I realized it needed yet another rewrite- one that would weave a completely new subplot through the story. After finishing my degree in December, (hello sleep and free evenings!) I began rewriting the entire novel.

I despise ... loath ... detest writing first drafts.  

And this rewrite needs tons of new material. I am not the writer who creates beautiful first drafts. Writing first drafts feels like a bad date: I'm awkward, uncertain, unable to maintain a conversation, and hoping- please, dear God- that it will end soon.  

Since I'm working with a novel, I've been writing the first draft for a chapter and then moving on to the next chapter.  It's killing me to leave so much unfinished business behind. These drafts aren't even good enough for the Slushies to read yet.

Still, it's been a great experience, this butt-in-chair time (as Jane Yolen calls it).

I've found gems in every chapter. I discovered a great character. I spun a beautiful sentence. (I doubt I'll keep any other part of that chapter, but the sentence is a good one. It's the heart of that portion of the story and the place I'll begin when I revise.)

I'm realizing that this horribly uncomfortable process doesn't mean that I'm a bad writer. Good writers ... write. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard. It takes courage to write something I know will begin as utter dreck. It requires confidence and tenacity to turn that beginning into something I'll be proud of.

This beginning is the part of writing that curls my toes and gives me nightmares. But I can do it.

So I will.


Lisa said...

Oh, Sarah! First drafts are my favorite part. It's where everything is new and fresh and possible, and I don't have to think of the perfect word because that will come later. Who cares how I spelled anything or that that isn't a complete sentence or that this character came out of nowhere? I'll change it all later. First drafts are like freedom to me. The part I hate is when my first thoughts start colliding with each other and I have to decide what to cut and what to keep, when I have to make sense of what I've written. I enjoy the puzzle of it, but when it's not working it's like wading through mud that gets stickier and stickier with each step until I can barely move.

I'll soon be moving into the mud of my novel and we can commiserate about the parts we hate.

So just keep writing! You have all that revision to look forward to. :)

Sarah said...

So cool! I love learning how everyone writes.

If I can see a scene clearly, I enjoy writing the first draft.

Many times, though, I have a sense that I've a bit of my story tucked away in a dark room, and I'm groping around, trying to find where everything is. The hard part is the fumbling, banging-your-shins exploration. It's not finding words so much as finding the story.

The rewarding part is that once I discover what's going on, I can play with it and, eventually, refine it.

Can't wait to read more of your story. Haven't run into mud yet...

I'm off to Barnes and Noble to do a little writing.

Michelle said...

Does anyone write good first drafts? I don't think so. If they did, they wouldn't be called first drafts, they'd be called bad books.

Sarah said...

I've heard of pretty good first drafts, but as best I can tell, the author thrashed out a lot of the details in his mind before writing.

Lisa said...

I write awesome, excellent, amazing first drafts...until I go back and read them. :)