First of all, I am going to take this moment to say to my non-writerly followers: Today’s post is about writing. My writing. Which might bore you to death (the post, not my writing–I hope). If you’re here today for humorous parenting non-advice, or a silly Top 5 list. I’m sorry. This won’t be that. So I won’t be at all offended if you took the next ten minutes (or however long you spend on my page) to go shop online. Christmas is coming, you know. Or maybe you want to grab a candy bar from the vending machine at work instead. Or knit a sweater. Or pop in that Zumba DVD. Whatever. I’ll see ya Friday, m’kay? Have fun storming the castle!
Now that you’ve been warned.
I’m writing a book. A young adult novel. About teenagers. Who fall in love (or really serious like). But not in a stereotypical way. OK, so yes, probably in a stereotypical way. There aren’t that many ways to fall in love, peeps! But it’s me. My style. Full of great one-liners and humorous situations involving everyday scenarios.
If Anna and the French Kiss had an incestuous love child with Lola and the Boy Next Door (incestuous because both are by Stephanie Perkins…who is awesome) and that love child took place in a grocery store in a small town/suburb, you might have my book. Or–it’s Juno without the whole teen pregnancy situation (OK, so it’s probably nothing like Juno, which wouldn’t be Juno without the teen pregnancy thing).
At least, that’s how I envision it. My scenes and ideas all dance together in my head. Whirling and twirling, all sparkly and fun. Like a prom where the punch is spiked. But when I try to translate those scenes and ideas from my head onto my document, they go from whirly-twirly-sparkly-spiked prom to awkward homecoming with a bad velvet dress (shut up, you had one too).
I get this paralyzing fear that I will never write anything worth selling. That I’m a total crap writer. That there are thousands of others out there who sit down at their computers and tap out pure gold. On the very first try. And as I sit there paralyzed like that, my damn cursor just blinks. Mocking me. Write something. Write something. Write something.
But I can’t.
What really happens is: Delete. Delete. Delete. Which most of you other writers know is counterproductive on the first draft. I have to let this fear go. Remind myself that first drafts ARE crap. They just are. For a good majority of writers. And, really. You don’t spike the punch until after you’ve gotten your hair, nails and make-up done. After the dress. And the shoes. And you’ve danced to all the cheesy songs first, thus the reason why the spiking is necessary. The whirly-twirly-ness comes after all of that. The sparkle comes after all the hard work. The finishing touch.
To end it with someone much wiser than me, I’ll turn to Anne Lamott:
“…The idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts. People tend to look at successful writers who are getting their books published and maybe even doing well financially and think that they sit down at their desks every morning feeling like a million dollars, feeling great about who they are and how much talent they have and what a great story they have to tell; that they take in a few deep breaths, push back their sleeves, roll their necks a few times to get all the cricks out, and dive in, typing fully formed passages as fast as a court reporter. But this is just the fantasy of the uninitiated. I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.”
(passage from Bird by Bird)
So. Here’s to drafts o’crap. And bad velvet dresses. And moving beyond this fear so I can finish my effing book already.