“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” James Michener
In my dreams I am too. In real life, I love writing the first draft of a story. Especially with a deadline. Last November, I signed up for this crazy event called NanoWrimo. The goal is to write 50 000 words in a month.
Fact is I wrote more than 50 000 words just on time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Then of course I had to start the revision of what Anne Lamott calls the shitty first draft.
I am fully aware of the flaws of my first draft and that the story that will emerge won’t have much to do with the flow of words that poured out of me for a month.
Yet I love my first draft and refuse to give it a bad name or to be snotty and ignore it five or seven drafts later.
A first draft is similar to a downhill hike.
This is as liberating to write without thinking as it is to walk without struggling. Besides, this is trully exciting to click on the word count at the end of the day and to discover with pure joy that yes, today 2000 words have been written.
I have two completed novels and countless picture book manuscripts that are now out either with an agent or an editor and I know that if any of them likes my work enough to take a chance with me, I will have to revise and rewrite and I am up to the challenge.
But earlier this month I was missing a first draft and just couldn’t wait for November. So on May 1st, I started my own NamoWrimo. I couldn’t say no to the moment when my fingers hit the keyboard and open a blank page.
I have now created people I won’t ever meet in real life but if I’m clever will be as alive as any human I know. I have invented backstories for them and concocted plots that if I’m careful with my craft will be believable.
And if I’m determined to sit every day behind my desk and write 2000 words, I will by the end of May have a first draft, full of flaws and mistakes but also full of promise.
But that is another story.