Saturday, February 23, 2008
Those of you who have finished any long project that took you any serious amount of energy and creativity know there sometimes comes a sense of satisfaction when you are done that can be positively euphoric.
This is what happens to me when I finish a first-draft of a novel: I am tired, physically and mentally, because I tend to see the light at the end of the tunnel and haul ass. My word output generally doubles, sometimes trebles as I near the finish, and it is like sprinting at the end of a marathon. When I cross the line, I got nothing left.
But, even so, there is a smile-on-my-face satisfaction that, in essence, translates to: Done! Done, by God! Lived through another one!
(Lot of writers I know use the Writer's Prayer, usually about three-quarters of the way through a book -- Please don't let me die until I get this one done ...)
First draft is where the biggest joys and pains live. When you are at -30-, it's isn't over -- the rewrite looms, and those can be absolute bears, but there is a structure. If you got it, you can cut, paste, throw out big sections, write new ones, and it can be trying, but no real comparison.
Editing and rewriting are like rebuilding the engine, chopping, channeling, and putting nineteen coasts of hand-rubbed candy apple red metalflake paint on your '55 Chevy -- the basic car is there -- the rest is, for me, less exciting and much easier.
First draft is still primer-gray, but the sense of accomplishment comes in building it from scratch, that's the big fun. The not-knowing. After that, it is still interesting and you can take pleasure in the work, but it can't touch first draft.
Me, I don't get to bask in the euphoria long, there's aways another project waiting in the wings.
Come Monday, I'll start a new novel, and with luck, this one won't take so long from once-upon-a-time until -30-.
Stand still, the moss starts to grow on you ...