Sunday, April 17, 2011

Swimming Past First Drafts

I’m reaching the end of a first draft.

That’s not to say that I’m finished with the story. It’s just that I’m coming to the end of my first glimpse of the story.

The first draft gives me an understanding of the landscape, the shape of things to come, so I can keep working to make new discoveries.

At the moment the characters and settings are ghosts, figments of imagination, wisps formed by words hurriedly scrawled before the wisps vanish.

In a first draft, I'm hoping to capture something–anything–before all goes dark and the wisps dissolve.

Going into the second draft, though, I’ll have the chance to slow down and “see” what made its way onto the paper and what didn’t make its way onto the paper.

What do I see on paper and what do I see in my mind’s eye that’s not yet on paper? That’s the question that I’ll ask myself as I begin the story again.

Each draft, I've learned over time, is a chance for me to hear the story anew, to listen for voice, to discover images, scenes, emotions that I never experienced before, not even in the first draft.

I've learned that I can write ten, twenty, or thirty drafts, and each time the story is different.

My perspective will change in the time that it takes to get from one draft to another.

It’s like sitting on the beach staring at the water day after day.

No day is the same.

No view is identical to the the view that came before it.

The light, the wind, the air temperature, the number of people walking the beach or swimming, the number of boats offshore, the hungry seagulls, the pink clouds at sunrise or sunset--all of it changes.

So too does each draft.

Some writers feel that revisions are pure drudgery.

But I’ve come to love the revision process as much as I love the excitement of writing that first draft.

Each successive draft helps me learn more about the hidden world inside my imagination.

And one day, if all goes well (because in writing there are no guarantees), I’ll complete a final draft and find myself with a story that I can share with readers.

For more on making it through first drafts, visit:


Susan L. Lipson said...

Beautiful description of the writing process. I couldn't agree more. Thanks for expressing the joy of discovery via revision.

Bruce Black said...

Glad you enjoyed the piece, Susan. Thanks for stopping by.

Jody said...

Thank you for a refreshing new perspective on revisions!

Bruce Black said...

Good luck, Jody, with your revisions. Happy to help.