There’s this weird transition going from the editing stage of an ongoing writing project to the first draft stage of a new one.
In editing, you’re striving to make things perfect, or at least closer to perfect (I’m big on multiple drafts), but in the actual writing of the first draft, you’re just feeling things out and trying to figure out where it’s all going to go.
I am SO excited about my new project. The idea evolved from that first line while I pulled dead marigolds, into a pitch-type outline while I was in the shower, into some pages that have a tone and pace I’m starting to like. I’m still trying to figure out the parameters of my new characters and the world they live in. It’s not scifi or anything. I’m not world building in that sense, but I still need to know where they live and work and play and what they look like.
Right now, it’s like I’m looking at that new world without my contacts in. Everything is blurry, but I can see the shapes of people, places, and things. And because everything is blurry, I need to give myself permission to write, as Anne LaMott says, a shitty first draft.
Things will sharpen later, and I know this. But it’s a little hard on the ego to go from tweaking something that’s all nice and shiny and polished and workshopped to writing vague details and stale dialogue in an attempt to see things more clearly and get to the point. I know better than to think everything I write will be gold or even plated with a gold-type material that turns your finger green eventually, but looks nice at the start. I think for every 5 pages I write, three eventually get deleted. Even though I know this, I still feel like walking away sometimes when my characters start to sound like wet cardboard. But on the flip side, it’s ridiculously fun to make discoveries, and I have a lot to learn about my new characters.