The First Draft

biggesteraser“Shitty first drafts.” Anne Lamott says everybody has them. They’re messy.

I like things in neat boxes, so messy is hard for me. Recovering perfectionist type. But letting the story pour out in the first draft feels more fair somehow.

Because of that, I force myself into that place. I let myself over explain, tell far more details than (almost did “then”) anyone cares to know. I do draw a line in the sand on some things–bathroom trips. My characters never go to the bathroom–even in a first draft.

It’s all I can do to power through a whole draft and not go back and edit as I go. (That’s the picture here in case you couldn’t tell–the world’s largest eraser in New York compliments of my friend, Kevin. Thanks, Vin.) Sometimes, I cave. I justify to myself that I can only build accurately forward if I fix the foundation. What kind of house stands on sand, I ask!

Really, if I’m being honest, I just don’t like to see my writing looking messy.

Blogging has helped here, though. You’re getting first drafts. Shocked? No, I didn’t think so.  I don’t pour over each detail, give it the proverbial sit in the drawer test and go back with new eyes. Nope. Misspellings, wrong words, word mishegoss when I’m not looking–all of it pours forth to the universe each and every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. (Thanks for tolerating that, by the way.)

In fact, sometimes when a blog comes out, I’ll read it just to see how it looks in my email. It may have been a few days since I wrote it (yeah, I’m one of those autoresponder kids). When I read an awkward sentence that I didn’t even know I had the ability to construe, or substitute “our” for “are,” a mistake my second graders even avoided in their writings, I think, “Really? Really!” About an hour later, my husband yells downstairs, “There’s a mistake in your blog.” (He’s my after-the-fact editor.)

It’s hard not to feel stupid. Like maybe the writing police should come and suspend my writing license or something. And then I counter (in my imaginary conversation with myself), “No way! I’m a recovering perfectionist. It’s part of the writing process.” Stuff. Like. That.

Join me. Let the story pour out. Erasers be damned! Embrace the shitty first draft.