Old News: May 2002
T-Shirts Now Available
Headline says it all, doesn't it? Except also that they're quite nice. Buy one now.
The Terrible First Draft
Anne Lamott, famous author and spiritual guide to many writers, has said that really shitty first drafts are essential to writing because they lead to good second drafts and great third drafts.
If that's true, then I'm on my way to writing a wonderful book because I've got a heck of a terrible first draft on hand right now. I wrote the draft in November and have since been afraid to look at it. I liked the characters and thought the plot could work well in a comic-thriller style, but the actual words themselves had not come easily.
Nonetheless, I knew that the words were not going to come more easily if I didn't work at them, and working at them required reading what was written so far.
Friday night I printed it, thrilled at the amount of paper required. I read a bit. I disliked it intensely. Here's a sample:
Little did Lars know that Henry was already trying to figure this weirdo out and get him exposed. What Henry didn't know was that Lars wanted that. They both revealed their motives and recognized each others' competing interests at the exact same moment. Over a sushi lunch.
Whole chapters run along like this. Segments with dialog are even more ponderous. Here and there I included notes to self, like "That won't work, it contradicts the whole beginning of the book." And although the draft fills 215 pages, the plot doesn't come to a climax in it.
Do people even use the word ‘weirdo'? I'm pretty sure I don't. How did it get into my book?
I decided I needed a good night's sleep to face the project fresh.
Saturday I woke, took the draft to the local coffeehouse, and started reading again, red pen in hand to mark up the bad passages and circle the good ones. I soon concluded that it would be easier to print the thing on red paper and use a white pen to circle the ten or so good sentences that hid throughout the text.
After a while I could take no more, and went out to a party. There, I described the book to a few people, highlighting the characters and plot twists. Everyone loved it. People said they looked forward to reading it. I told them I did too. I returned home energized, determined not to let the terrible first draft prevent me from creating a better second one.
But I don't want to set my goals too high. At this point, I'll be content with a merely bad second draft. I think Ms. Lamott would approve.
The Spring Highlights
New items of note at Inkburns:
Layout redesign: Observant visitors have no doubt noticed that the site menus and organization have been updated. Please let us know what you think of the new design, and if you notice any faulty links.
Site guide: To orient new visitors to the site, we've added a page that highlights major areas and key pages.
T-shirts and mugs: The Inkburns t-shirts have been ordered, after an unreasonably long period of hemming and hawing regarding their design. We expect their arrival at the Inkburns offices in late May, and will post a tempting photo along with ordering information. Mugs are available now. Mug users report that they've found them stylish and extremely effective at holding hot and cold liquids.