First Draft Blues
The day has finally arrived. You’ve spent months poking out your story on the computer and you’ve finally reached The End. Glory, glory, hallelujah!
you shout to the fixtures in your office, your dog, whoever will listen.
Then you shuffle the manuscript pages in your eager fingers and read—it’s the moment of truth, and as your eyes read line after line, a nasty feeling crawls into your gut. You’re sure segments of it could have come from the fat pencil of seven-year-old. Other parts are so boring you nod off then wake up and wipe your drool from the pages.
You whine. You lament. You rent your clothes. I thought I was a writer!
you say to yourself. But you can’t be because your writing is sludge. No, it’s worse than sludge. It’s the stuff that settles at the bottom of sludge.
Been there. Felt that. But after ten years of writing, I’m realizing my first draft is usually a Pile Of Dog Doo. Maybe it’s negative to call my newborn baby ugly, but it’s a relief to arrive at this place where I can read my first draft, feel the fear, then remind myself it’s okay. It’s only my PODD.
I recall the words of my college English professor. Writing is re-writing. I don’t remember anything else she said. (If I’d known I was going to be a writer I would have listened better.) But that one thing I do remember is important stuff—and as it turns out, my favorite part of the process.