I finished a first draft of a new book.!
What can be said of first drafts?
They suck. But it seems that they suck a little less each time you do one. When I first began writing I would sit down and just write. No plan, no real idea about what was going to happen in the story. Just a character and a conflict. That was kind of painful. Though I did really get into every sentence, trying to make them ring and roll together. But then character and plot began to drift. And I'd be so tired at the end of the book that it would seriously drift.
Some things have changed.
I now plan. For this particular book, I planned a lot. Right down to exactly what would happen in each chapter. Though this plan didn't totally hold up, it was there. There was a real positive to this in that I no longer had to think about what would happen next. The negative was that since I'd already figured out what would happen next, I was less ready to write it or allow myself to go sideways and look at other threads. I stopped once about half way through and worked on tone and added a couple of chapters and ideas which kind of gave me the bump to keep going.
I still rushed to the end leaving gaps which need to be filled. There's something about getting a first draft done, seeing that it all works, which is satisfying enough to allow a writer to say, 'Let's not write every scene here, there'll be time to go back.' Maybe it's not the best idea, and I know I'm going to hate beginning of March Jeff when I am mid April Jeff and find I have to write a bunch of scenes I'd left out. But for now, it's satisfying.
I like to let first drafts sit for about a month before going back at them. If I start again now, I'll likely hate the book by the end of it. Plus, I will see what I wanted to write and not necessarily what is there. I'm kind of forgetful, so there's a real chance I'll get into the editing and find all the issues that a reader would find. And, again, really hate that beginning of March Jeff who left all this work for me to do.
Luckily (?) I have three projects to choose from.
1) finishing the novel I received a City of Ottawa grant for. This is the likely choice as it's well on its' way and is turning out the way I want it. Plus, they gave me money!
2) The Limelights I have already sold to Orca about the violinist. This, as well, is fairly planned out but I would like to take a three or four day span and get a first write done all at once. I feel these shorter books are best written as quickly as possible and then endlessly edited.
3) Any of a number of other projects. I received another grant for a book I need to research first and will be doing so this summer. There is still some other research which needs to be done, but that's tired time work. I also have a couple of ideas floating around that could take hold. But in the end, it's likely best to work on what I have been paid for already.
I used to get pretty excited about finishing a book. Now, I know that it's really only the beginning. Though, the way I see it, the hard work is done. Re-writing and editing are actually a lot more fun than trying to pull something out of nothing.