I’m happy to report I’m near the end of my second novel’s first draft, so I have a few thoughts to share. Very few. This draft has eaten my brain.
Could this brain deadness be the fault of summer? Perhaps the magnificent canopy of trees cocooning our house, the sprawl of emerald-green grass surrounding us, and the flowers – Impatiens, valerian, clementis, petunias, lettuce – have lured me away. Nah. I just can’t concentrate.
Like other writers, I’m yearning for the early days when I began writing. What the hell happened to the intense focus, enthusiasm, and reckless confidence pouring through me with my first novel? It certainly wasn’t the best novel ever written, but it was my baby. It was like falling in love. That deep Caribbean aqua word-love during which you cannot think of anything but the evolution of your characters and their world. The glow of their existence bathes you like a warm ocean on a brilliant day. Wow. There is nothing like it.
Then the second novel arrives. Premature and squalling, it struggles from birth. Where did all that languorous “I could spend my life with you, beautiful words” go?
The reasons writing flounders are as myriad as the stars, but my specific one is: time taken to write a first draft.
Stephen King says:
“Get the first draft done quickly. I believe the first draft of a book – even a long one – should take no more than three months…Any longer and – for me at least – the story begins to take on an odd foreign feel, like a dispatch from the Romanian Department of Public Affairs, or something broadcast on high-band shortwave during a period of severe sunspot activity.”
Exactly what happened to me. I took too long with first draft and I lost focus. Period.
After you experience the deep aqua kind of love in your writing, you anticipate it the second time. But, in my experience, true love doesn’t work that way. The real thing takes work, just as the best writing you can do takes planning and discipline, serious plodding – even when the thrill is temporarily gone.
There are moments when I see my POV character and her lover waving to me from the bridge of their starship as they float away into the cosmos. I yell, “Wait, I’m not done with you yet,” to which they reply,” Tough, sh*t. We can’t wait around here forever.”
How long does your first draft take or does it matter?
Photo credit: Topyti / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)