Okay, that title is a little melodramatic, yes? Yes. But what in the name of Asgard am I talking about? Glad you asked…
I have mentioned that I hate waiting. I hate waiting for the mail-carrier to come in the afternoon or early morning or late evening or WHENEVER SHE FREAKING DECIDES TO SHOW UP WITH MY PRECIOUS…You get the point. I also hate waiting in lines, waiting for my mom to get home from work so we can spill details about the day’s events. And I hate waiting to share my books with the world.
Guys, this is bad news. First drafts SUCK. They’re supposed to. Anne Lemott (forgotten how to spell) said it well–or was it Hemingway? I don’t know, but it’s freakin’ genius ’cause it’s true: The first draft of everything is s..t.
To tone it down and censor it (as I do for my younger readers): The first draft of everything stinks. We don’t parade our body odor around proudly, do we? No, of course not. We shower, we put on deodorant, we spray on cologne. We don’t impatiently skip all that hygiene because we hate waiting to get out the door. Why? Because besides our stench offending those around us, WE DON’T WANT TO EMBARRASS OURSELVES.
A watched pot on a burner still boils. But if you touch it without proper safety equipment, you will get burned. Here’s how this translates into the writing life: If you share your ideas, your first draft, your first paragraph, your first sentence too soon (before polish and proper gestation–yes, I used that word. Sue me), you will most likely get burned or burnt out.
If the person you’re sharing your first draft of…stink with doesn’t appreciate it or have the reaction you wanted, that can sink your hopes and let your old enemy Doubt creep back in and drag you under the boiling water (because I hate wasting a good metaphor.) “Oh, they didn’t like it! That means it’s horrible! Oh noes. I am a terrible author! This is a terrible book. I quit! I quit this book and I quit writing. Period.” Melodramatic? Maybe. But I’ve been there.
That’s why I need to let my pot boil and watch it boil ALONE. When the time is right, I’ll add all the fixin’s that are missing from the first draft, stir it up, thicken it up, taste test, and then…
Dinner is served to the beta-readers!
Keep your pen on the page,
Do you share your ideas and work too soon? Tell me I’m not alone in getting discouraged by lukewarm reactions.