Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Illusive First Draft

In a Writer's Year blog entry from back in June (Yes, I am behind in my reading. Did you really expect anything else from me?), Louise Doughty says, "Over the last week I have realised that I am still at the stage of needing to suspend self-judgment, at least until I've got a rough first draft under my belt."

Yes, yes, yes. I agree with that. But if I was ever able to whip through a draft of a book years ago, I sure can't do it now. If things aren't going well--if I don't have a voice I like, if the logic of the plot is no longer working, if I decide that what I want to do at Point M will only work if I go back and change something at Point D and once I've done that everything has to be reworked because we're talking domino theory--then I have to back up.

Oh! This analogy just popped into my head! Seriously. Writing is like driving on a dirt road that isn't terribly well maintained. If you start to spin, there's no point in just staying there reving your engine and sinking further and further into the mud. It's better to shift into reverse, back up, and try to avoid the mud hole by driving around it. Or getting out altogether and putting down boards to drive on. Or perhaps your GPS is telling you to take another road altogether.

I'd hoped to have the first draft for The Durand Cousins finished at the beginning of May. Then I thought it would be terrific to be done by the end of this week. Now I have a fantasy about being done sometime in September when I'm leaving for vacation in the Great North.

While I don't seriously expect that to happen, experience tells me that at some point it will get done.

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