Saturday, January 14, 2012
The importance of drafts
My drafts aren’t always very good. In fact, my first drafts are usually pretty bad. Right now I’m doing a cram revision of something I wrote about ten years ago so that I can (hopefully) submit it to the forthcoming Amazon novel competition.
The good news is that reading something I wrote so long ago shows me how much my writing has improved. The bad news is that I may not be able to get it in submission shape in time (I’ll submit it anyway as only the first 20 pages show up on the site so I can keep on revising it after the submission; If I lose so be it, but I can’t even place if I don’t submit).
But drafts are the bones that form the eventual finished product. They lay out the map upon which I can build something more substantial or better. Some people can write a more complete and polished first draft than I can. For me, these blog postings end up needing (in my opinion) only the faintest of touch ups while longer thought pieces are just jots of notes (which go through more than one massive re-write). We all write differently.
What have I learned revising something I wrote so long ago? When starting on pieces that are hundreds of pages long I was much too wordy and didn’t build the backgrounds well enough. The book needed little research but the fact that I did none is glaring. The story is there but it needs to be better developed and the characters need to shut up once and a while. I can see in the narrative all of the lessons I later learned from my writing teachers at UCLA.
I’m learning about my writing and myself (all writing is ultimately about ourselves…at least in fiction…). Most of all I’m seeing firsthand how persistence and a dedication to creating the best piece I can is worth the time and effort. Most things worth having don’t come easily but there is a reward for that effort. Work pays off; in unexpected ways somehow but there’s always a reward. I’m so excited to find a draft of something that may never be a great book but that I can craft it into a really very good one. The process is grueling but I can see a good story emerging!