Shitty First Drafts*

Yes, I stole the phrase from Anna Lamott. She’s possibly my favorite writer-for-writers at the moment, aside from Don Miller, who pretty much tells you to live a story worth writing about.

Well, here’s the thing: I may possibly be scared of writing shitty first drafts. I’ve known this for a while but it hasn’t usually been an issue when so much of what I write has a real-life anchor. But when everything is new – aka as I sit here and try to get a head start on fiction writing for the fall – I can’t seem to get past the first couple sentences. I’m not very good at getting to know my characters, as it turns out, if they live in my head and not in the world. So I think this means I have to stare off in the distance past my screen, head-tilted, trying to see and hear and smell the scene, trying to figure out what my characters ate for breakfast and how what’s happening on the surface can reflect what’s happening underneath.

As it turns out, I am a nonfiction and poetry person. My overactive imagination seems rather quiet in the face of conjuring some story with depth and beauty rather than some monster that goes bump in the night at my empty apartment. I like my life, I like my people…conceiving a fictitious baby is rather harder than I would like it to be.

Taking it bird by bird…it’s still going to be a long night.

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One thought on “Shitty First Drafts*

  1. I like the quirky literary phrases in the last main paragraph, even though you weren’t trying to be all writer-y about it. And can immediately conjure up times when I have felt similar about my own musings.

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