Today was the first day of a new draft, and it demanded the usual sacrifices.
Required: one blank Word document. One girl's ego. And the razor-sharp edge of really atrocious writing.
It's funny: I forgot how bad my first drafts are! Whew! It's been a while since I had to face them.
I've spent the last few months rehabilitating this plot and rethinking every element of the story. And now is the time when I put all of it through the mill, and catch it in sentences on the other side.
I somehow thought it would be easier this time, because this is technically the fourth draft of the book. I mean, I should know some things by draft four, right? After half a million words with these characters, we should all be on good terms?
But this is more like the fourth first draft of the story. In other words, I'm starting from scratch, from the top of page one, and not just tinkering around with decent paragraphs that already exist.
And these new sentences are terrible!! I mean--they're really bad. I'm not being modest, cute, or polite. And I'm not just saying what writers are supposed to say, "oh it's so miserable!" The kind of statement that requires a "I'm sure it's not that bad!" from the long-suffering listener.
It's not the kind of bad that can be brushed aside or excused. This is the kind of bad that has no illusions whatsoever.
But what amazes me today, even more than the stink rising from the words? What's truly, truly worth celebrating?
I'm okay with bad writing.
Really! After the initial shock wore off, I looked around and everything was still standing. I'm okay. The book's okay. The characters shrug. Seriously? they say, glancing over at me. You forgot about this part? The beginnings are always terrible. We forget our lines. So do you. And it will get better.
So that's where we are. The first thousand words are milling around in draft four, and I'm not having an identity crisis. ... That's a very, very good thing.
Truly, I used to freak out when I would read my own terrible writing. This is from me? I thought. And then I'd look around the room and kind of hide the paper. Maybe we can keep anyone from finding out. Because I accidentally told a lot of people that I'm working on a novel.
Now I know it's just part of the game. And after a while, all the critical voices in my head will shut up when they see I'm not paying attention. I'll muddle through this draft like all the others.
It's so bad right now. But I know--with a certainty I didn't used to have--that it will be very, very good.