|Source: The great Tumblog, Title to Come|
When I wrote the first draft of MINNOW, I made writing the first draft a kind of game. The rules were simple:
1) Be a word-producing robot
2) Meet your weekly word count goal
3) Have fun writing the ugliest words you can think of
I literally told myself that my goal was to write ugly. It took some of the pressure off. It was the only way I could handle the transition from writing poetry to fiction. When I started writing MINNOW, I would write a sentence, then dissect it and rip it apart until it was perfect. That's how I'd write poems, revising as I went. This was one of the most difficult aspects of transitioning from poetry to fiction. I remember being paralyzed by indecision in that first month or so. I'd stare at the computer screen completely lost because I realized that, even with pretty sentences, I still had no clue what the book was about. And what about flashbacks? And character development? And voice? It was overwhelming. Eventually I decided I had to put my word-perfectionism on hold during the drafting phase. It's just not feasible--there are just too many words to be concerned with.
It seems it's time to take my own advice again. In the life of MINNOW, drafting composed a relatively short period of time. I spent probably three months on that first draft, and the next two years rewriting and revising (I'd wager maybe a hundred words remain from the first draft). I'm realizing that I haven't done full-on first drafting for a long time. Because of that, my perception of my own writing has gotten a little skewed. I've spent so much time in the tinkering, making-words-pretty phase with MINNOW, I'd forgotten that I could write ugly [cue sardonic laughter]. It seems that, yes, I can still write ugly. I drove home after a recent writing session in a state of shock and disgust, chanting to myself, "Everything sucks. Everything sucks." No, Stephanie, everything doesn't suck. It's just a first draft. You're just making marble.