For this post I think my agent should turn her head. And perhaps my mother. Because I’m talking about the first draft of my novel, which isn’t even finished yet even though I have [almost – if it was official I’d be so much more likely to stick to it, but I totally let myself off the hook with that “almost”] vowed to finish it this summer. And I might cuss.
No. I can’t cuss. So Mom can keep reading after all. But my agent and important people in the publishing business should probably just go. I’m talking about the Anne Lamott kind of first draft. Dear Anne Lamott, I am only getting through this draft because of an unstoppable belief that I am some kind of special and actually have something to offer (it started with my mother and all her praise – it’s a really long story, but I’m not likely to get over it no matter how little I actually accomplish in life) and your advice in BIRD BY BIRD about writing the – ahem – crappy first draft.
That concept is my writing salvation these days. That and Mom’s story of the afghan. Was it an afghan or a quilt or sweater or something? I’m not sure. But a girl made one once. It was her first time. And by the end of the project – ooh she was good – probably county fair good. But in the beginning – not so much. She had motivationless characters and terrible metaphors and oh the many was-es. I mean – crooked stitches and extra inches and such. But each night, her mother would come in after her and fix her mistakes. And each night there would be fewer to fix until there were none.
Anne Lamott and that afghan are the only reasons a certain novel will ever be finished at all. That and the fact that I have a literary agent, and not completing my first novel – no matter how grueling the process might be – would be the God-awfulest waste of awesome resources EVER. (Getting an agent is one of the very scariest, most crazy-difficult parts on the business side.)
Now, a little paragraph for the lurking editors. I know you’re out there, just waiting for me to wow you. This book is completely awesome. By “crappy” I mean only that I haven’t yet decided if my hero’s name is Ryan or Andrew and what exactly my heroine’s father does for a living. All of the important details, like the thrilling high concept plot, are perfectly in balance and coming along swimmingly. Once the first draft, nea, the second maybe, is complete, I shall put a blurb about it on the My Writing page, and you shall clamor. I’m quite sure of that. My mother has told me so in no uncertain terms.