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First draft. How bad can it be?

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Every professional writer, every editor and every How-to book will tell you that the first draft of your story is garbage. That’s not the words they use but I’m trying to be G-rated here. Being the analytical sort, I’ve asked the question, “If it’s so bad, why do books ever get finished? If the first draft is always toilet water, why on Earth would the writer, editor, or publisher ever get beyond it and find a good story somewhere inside the garbage?” There are an awful lot of books and magazines out there with stories in them. Granted, not all of them are prize-winning quality. However, there are a ton that are much better than they are given credit for. So, somehow, the first draft makes it out of the cellar and onto the bookshelf.

My current project has been in the works for a long time. It’s been on again, off again with two short stories and numerous articles interspersed within the timeline. For the most part the internal editor has been kept at bay. I have gone back and re-read several sections to get back into the story line or to verify a detail or two. I have tried not to be judgmental of my writing or the story at this point. Then one evening last week, I sat down to write. I was feeling a little out of sorts and lacked focus bur I was determined to work through it and get a thousand words out before I turned on the idiot box (television). As I wrote, I kept saying to myself, “This is crap. This is crap. Oh, this is really crap!”

Finally, I hit my goal of a thousand words. I think I may have even finished the sentence before I closed the laptop. Maybe.

“Thank God! It’s all crap, but I got through it.” I set the laptop aside and proceeded to watch some mindless TV.

Two days later a friend asked me how the book was coming and the nightmare returned. “Oh, I’ve written some, but it’s all crap.”

She replied with the kicker, “Yeah, and…?”

“And, what?” I said.

She smiled and calmly replied, “You have always told me that the first draft is garbage, right?”

“Uh…yeah, I suppose so…but you don’t understand, this was really crap!”

She continued to smile but said nothing so I changed the subject.

That night I went back and looked at the “mess”. After reading over twice, it dawned on me that except for a minor change to the laws of physics and relocating my main character’s “dying” body, the scene actually works, for now. Not quite as bad as I had imagined. Hmm…

I thought of my friend and just shook my head.

So, there must be various levels to crap and as long as there is a desire to edit the work until it is no longer crap, there is hope. And eventually a story.

Note to self – Finish the book dummy and quit worrying about the quality. It’s going to be crap until you start editing it. Just write!

 

 

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7 Comments

Posted by on February 1, 2016 in Thoughts on Writing

 

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The first 365 1/4 days

Many of you who read this blog, have also celebrated your first year of blogging during the last couple of months.

Today it’s my turn. As usual, I started off on fire. I had no idea what I was doing or how to do it. Many of you were there to share experiences and advice on what to do to get the ball rolling. Thank you all.

I went back an looked at my first post. It was a typical welcome to my new blog site post. However, reading it reminded me of the reasons I started writing in the first place. I remember the first character background that I wrote up for a role-playing game. I gave it to my friends to read and got rave reviews. A few years later I tried my hand at a novel. After about 30,000 words I hit a wall. Real life interrupted me and I never finished it. However, it planted the seed that writing was fun. It was a change of pace from reading. I realized I could write the types of stories that interested me instead of relying on someone else to write them.

The idea to start a blog came as a result of advise from several sources that said a serious writer needs to have a blog. So here we are a year later. I have learned a great deal. There is a lot more to blogging than I ever imagined. Not only must I publish my own posts, but I learned that I have the surprisingly enjoyable responsibility to view, comment on, share, and support all of your blogs as well. Some weeks I do better than others. I am constantly amazed at the wealth of information that exists within the blogosphere. Thankfully, this community is more than willing to share with each other.

The last few months have been about trying to find balance. Most of us struggle with this. How much time to devote to posting, reading, commenting, working on our own WIP’s, and taking part in the rest of our real lives. I am starting to figure out what works for me. So, we’ll see what happens in 2013.

As for 2012, my blog introduced me to some amazing people from across the globe. Many of you have helped me find tools that will make me a better writer. For that I am eternally grateful. My blog provided opportunities to share my work with other writers and editors. It opened doorways to types of writing I had not considered before.

One of the goals of starting this blog was to assist in getting published, hopefully by someone other than myself. That goal was achieved. Even though it was not a short story or novel, the magazine article was published and distributed to several thousand people. I see that as a good start. It lifted my confidence which is always appreciated and needed. 😉

I follow so many blogs and receive comments from so many of you that it would take all day to list you all. However, I would like to reach out and thank a few individuals specifically for their support, generosity, and most excellent humor, which is so important to me.

First is Tony G. Tony is a professional boxing promoter, entrepreneur, friend, and was the individual who helped me kick off this blog. Thank you Tony. See you at the fights!

Then there is:

Anne Woodman

Kate at 4amWriter

Shannon M Howell

Scott Weber

Robin Coyle

Matt Wright

They are all great writers and bloggers that I can count on to make me laugh and make me think. They provide sound advise and share their lives and writing adventures with enthusiasm. Thank you.

I am looking forward to 2013. I have some writing goals that I think are achievable and for the most part, family and friends are healthy. (I hope I didn’t just jinx it!)

My quote of the day: Laugh every day. It makes you and everyone around you feel better. Besides, the alternative is completely unacceptable! 🙂

 
19 Comments

Posted by on January 16, 2013 in Other Strangeness

 

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