It's not a fashion show

16 June 2011

My mother used to always tell me that when I had a fit because I had nothing to wear to school. Her point was that I didn’t need to look like everyone else at school in order to learn. Learning is the point of school, not fashion.

I suppose the same thing applies to draft of a novel. The point is not for them to be pretty, the point is to get the story to take shape. The details are something to worry about another time.

I started typing and writing badly last week, which is very exciting. Very, very exciting. It’s good to have got going. The unfortunate thing is that the going is not always good.

I am not the type of writer who worries every word, every phrase, every sentence. I’m more of a ‘hindsight is 20/20’ type of writer. I write my drafts all the way though, and each time I go back and edit, I look for different things, depending on what stage I’m at.

Since I’m at the beginning, the smaller to medium sized things are getting glossed over in a way. Right now, the thing I need to remember to focus on is getting a draft done. That’s all. That’s all I have to do; every morning when I get up, I know that what needs to get done is that draft. And nothing else. The words don’t need to be pretty, they can repeat as often as they want; it’s an anything-goes sort of situation at the minute. The Wild West of drafts.

Thing is, it’s tricky. Because I think all writers have this thing in them, sort of like a gag reflex that makes it incredibly hard for them to write in a way they think of as bad, sub-par, not up to scratch. But it needs to be done. It’s something you have to do to get to the other side. Traveling itself isn’t always fun, but arriving is great. I’m traveling right now.

Even though I don’t worry every word, I still find it hard to get through the first draft. As I’m writing it, I know each successive chapter is far better than the one before, which is possibly part of the problem. As I’m writing I’m still exploring characterization, figuring out who does what, what the physical ticks are, what their favourite phrases are.

You know, I suppose in many ways, I’m writing a pinata: This draft will be destroyed, thrown away, binned. It is built to be thrown away.

But, unlike a pinata, once this draft is done, and ready to be shown the door, another will emerge in it’s place, and so on and so forth, until it’s done and the whole thing starts over again. With possibly a six month break in the middle for resting.