Last winter I embarked on a journey to see how speedily I could write a 75K novel. Since my first novel took 10 years to write from start to “conclusion” I had something to prove to myself. Was I really that slow of a writer? I’ve since learned the answer to that question is ‘No’. With a strong outline in hand, I can write a draft in about 6 months (while holding down a full time job and raising two young kids.)
I let last year’s draft sit for several months while I busied myself with other creative projects. As more and more time passes I find it increasingly difficult to convince myself that I’m allowing the draft to ‘simmer’. I’m pretty sure the flavors are quite mingled by now. It’s time to sit down and revise.
Here’s my draft. I printed it out at Office Depot, paid for the nice spiral binding. What do you think?
I think it’s a bit scary.
Now that it’s all dolled up, a mere glance at it awakens the butterflies in my stomach. No. The image of butterflies—that’s too bucolic. It’s more like a blood pressure cuff slowly tightening around my intestines. The pressure is bearable, but uncomfortable enough that I want to flee asap.
Truth is, I fear my own writing. Why? Well. It looms. Before a story is written, it’s just a fun idea. It’s an experiment. The thing doesn’t exist so there’s no strings attached. After I’ve written the story, it represents a boat load of work that I know I have to do else disappoint myself and admit I am nothing more than a fantasizing time waster. The problem is made worse when I actually like my draft. If there are some shining moments in it, I feel like I must do them justice by tightening up all the other parts and pieces that aren’t so great. If I don’t, well, I’m a bad steward of my talent and I’m just plain lazy. Who knew a fun idea could turn into such a monster?
Nevertheless, I resist the urge to flee. I resist the urge to be perfect. I resist the urge to ‘prove’ myself to others. I shut out the voices of potential critiques and those who simply won’t give a hoot. I push up my glasses, pick up my pencil and…
Should I read through the draft once without making any editing notes? But what if I come up with a great idea during the first reading? If I don’t jot it down, I might not remember it. No, I should just read through it once as an objective audience member. No scribbles…
I will conquer this beast.