Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The First Draft Procrastination -- Staining the Water Clear

March 1.2010

I'm procrastinating getting started on my next novel. It's a Junior Children's novel for Grades 3 and up, a sequel to THE TROUBLE WITH DILLY which was released in Fall 2009. I love my character and her world and I'm longing to be absorbed in the thick of it, of being caught up in the white heat of writing where everything else fades and I'm in the centre of time's spiral, that still spot where time is unmoving and eternal.

And yet I'm putting it off.

Okay, so in part I'm putting it off because of fear. It's the fear that all writers have -- the fear expressed so well by William Blake (Songs of Innocence) of staining the water clear.

We all have in our heads a version of the story, a feeling of it that seems pristine and perfect.

By starting to write, I'm afraid I won't be able to do justice to that vision in my head, that I'll stain the clear water of that perfect vision. When I teach creative writing to kids and adults, I warn them about this, how often writers feel this way and how the only way to overcome this self-doubt and fear is to just start.

And yet I can't seem to follow my own advice. It seems I must go through a dance of self-loathing, longing to start, fear and darting about, punctuated with deep periods of intense thought lost in the story, and being distracted by housework for godsakes, which I loathe, before the fear of not starting overcomes the fear of starting. It's a struggle between the hot scratchy desire for that first draft to be as close to perfect as possible, and the cool, peaceful acceptance that it hardly ever is. It's a fear that perhaps can only be overcome by remembering that there are few if any near perfect drafts; that the writing process is labyrinthine, full of surprises and dead ends, and that it's all part of the process, and part of the fun.

Except, when you've had about twenty or more books published and others on the way, you keep hoping that by now you really should be skilled enough to have a fabulous first draft and the fact that you don't means you're a terrible writer and perhaps you should go and get a real job, except that you love what you do -- apart from the self-loathing and vacillating -- and once you get into it you'll be able to draw in a deep breath and be ALL RIGHT.

I will start soon. I will. I'll relax and embrace the imperfection, enjoy the process. I'll settle into the joy of the writing and let the judging of the first draft await my judging mind when the euphoria of finishing that first draft subsides.

1 comment:

  1. I Blake for first drafts...

    Great to see this great new blog online, Rachna. And with really insightful, thoughtful posts. I'll take this as an inspiration to get going on my new draft and not stall by reading more great blogs such as yours...

    Congratulations on the start of this new venture!