It’s hard to admit that the first version of a story, a novel or a memoir is always bad.
Anne Lamott said it all when she wrote about the ‘shitty first draft’.
Two years ago I wrote a collection of stories for my husband and my children to celebrate my twenty years in the US.
I went to Kinkos and printed five copies of my 170 pages, which bound, made a little book. One of the members of my critique group read it. She is several times published and I trust her opinion very much.
“Have you considered,” she said. “To make it more than a personal gift to your family?”
“Like a book?” I asked.
“Maybe.” When we write, we all would like to share our stories, right?”
“Then,” my friend said. “You have to rewrite it.”
“You have to start at chapter 4. You have to create secondary characters. You have to condense. You have to get a narrative arc. You need…”
Her ‘you have to’ list was endless.
She had definitely read the ‘shitty first draft’ of Anne Lammott.
Maybe, I thought, I don’t need to make a book, maybe it’s what it is and will remain as is. Since a good critique fellow must try to be as impartial as can be, my friend gave me also a list of things she had liked in my manuscript. And there were enough good things to make me reconsider the project.
That’s how I spent most of the school winter break and today I’m finished!
I will see my critique friend and guess what?
“You want to make a book?” she will ask me.
“Then you must revise this manuscript.”
“Where is the list?”
Hopefully, her ‘you have to’ list will be shorter but I will return to work. That I know.
But I really want that book.