The first drafts are always the hardest for me. I spend a lot of time in my head with my books, and when I get to the actual story writing, I'm always disappointed with myself. It was so much better in my head! It's always tempting to stop, and start thinking about a new story, because "this one is going to be good." Total attempt at faking myself out!
But I know that the only way out is through. So...I plod on. Through the many pages of mortifyingly bad writing that I can barely look at, but must be written in order to get to the good part.
Once, though, I'd gotten through a very good portion of the first draft. I was almost done! I'd taken all of those notes, those scribbles, those newspaper clippings and magazine articles, voice memos and emails to myself and put something together. And I loved it. I got some great editorial feedback. It was going, going, going...then it stopped.
And I mean stopped. Like skidded to a cartoon halt.
And this was a story that was so close to my heart, that felt like it had come from the deepest part of me, that had been worrying and nagging and questioning and speaking to me for so long. But I read over what I had, and there was a lot of pretty prose disguising some real flaws.
Things fell apart.
So I decided to give up. Deliberately and carefully, I set the book down, telling myself that I was not going to try to publish it. That maybe this was only a story that I needed to tell myself, and that was fine. This time, it wasn't a fake out. This was admitting to myself that maybe I wasn't ready to tell this story in the way that it needed to be told. That maybe, I would never be ready.
It was a relief.
For a while.
About a year.
I worked on other things. I frowned when people asked about it.
Then, without even trying to think about it, I started to get ideas. I started to see the story again.
I wanted to see the story again.
Successful or not, I had to try.
Sometimes it's like preparing to go into a cave or a tunnel; you try to prepare as much as you can, and gather all of the tools you think you'll need, but you just don't know exactly what's inside, and if/how you'll be able to deal with it.You grip your pick a little tighter and get ready to chip and chisel away, to shape an enormous mass of unyielding, forbidding, rocky mass of ideas and characters and themes and fragments and confusion
into a story.
You take a deep breath, and go in again.
Because you're a storyteller
And it's an awful struggle sometimes
But it's a beautiful one too,