Though the real reason progress on my novel stagnated following the completion of the first draft is undoubtedly that my time has been split between work and grad school leaving no time for writing, there is something else that has hampered the few, feeble attempts I have made at reviving the work and will surely be a psychological hurdle to jump once I refocus my efforts a new. One valuable lesson I learned at the FSU school of creative writing, and have mentioned plenty of times on this blog, was to demystify the first draft. There are plenty of stories I would never have finished without that ability, and my novel is one of them. It's the simple mind set that one must write and not worry about whether or not what they are writing is perfect or publishable or even good. The idea is that, you can't just write a great story but you can fix a bad one. Write crap but write anything, get your ideas on paper. Then fix it in later drafts. How liberating!
And it was liberating. I soared through the creation of a 150,000 plus word novel in a few months. But now I have to fix it and that fear is back. I have to fix it right. What I'm putting on paper needs to be closer to perfect. It needs to be almost publishable. Even dulling those statements with words like 'closer' and 'almost' because I know that my second draft won't be the last, I'm still afraid to touch it. I've started rewriting the first chapter a half dozen different times already. The standard has been raised and I'm afraid my attempts to reach for it will fall sadly short. In part this fear is not wrongfully placed. Though I don't intend to send this draft out to agents and publishers and I know it takes many authors years of work to develop a single book, I still feel like this is a significant step and one that I don't want to botch. I do intend for this to be much closer to the book's final product. I do intend to let people read this draft and give me their opinions. Neither of those goals will be reached while I'm too afraid to start hacking away at the first draft.
Either I'm going to have to lower the bar and take baby steps, accepting that the second draft may not be what I want it to be and that there may be many more drafts to come or I'm going to have to grin and bear it and just try to mold this thing into what I want it to be, difficult as that may be. Which ever mind set I inhabit, I'm going to have to start working on this thing daily, just as I did with the first draft, make steady progress and not look back. It's definitely going to be a psychological battle and fist fight with myself, but if I want to see this thing through, that's what it'll take. Lower the standard or over come my fear of falling short of those goals.
But for now, I have a semester to finish and at the moment I can't tell what the new year has in store. I only know that I need to make some kind of change that will enable me to get back to the writing I did in the spring.
Until next time, I'm Eric and I'm an unpublished writer.