Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First Draft

I've been waiting for it with breathless anticipation and a slight dread that the words will not come. I call it First-Draft-Land--my happy, happy place. I'm sure not every author loves writing the first draft as much as I do, but every author must tackle that first draft, nonetheless.

There are a million ways to approach a new book. I am a self-described organized writer. Before I even think about firing up that laptop, I spend time researching my characters, the setting, the plot twists; I cannot imagine writing a single word without having a brief outline in front of me. It's like mapping out the journey before a long trip--some find it necessary, others do better winging it.

Even though I'd finished gathering background information a few weeks ago and had dreamt about this week for quite a while, I wasn't ready to take the plunge and start writing. Why wasn't I ready? Good question. Well, the best answer is that sometimes the planets need to align and other miracles of the universe need to occur before I'm ready to face the first blank page.

On Monday, I opened the laptop (after grocery shopping, cleaning cat litter, and sorting laundry--bleh! Was I procrastinating? Hmm...), and my cat decided to hoist herself onto the desk and use my open laptop as her napping spot. Since I'd never seen her do this before, I could have taken it as a bad sign, but I reminded myself that the planets had aligned and other miracles of the universe had occurred and Monday was definitely the day to start writing.

The words, "Chapter One," stared at me for a long time. The blinking cursor lulled me into some sort of trance. Breaking my gaze free, I went downstairs to make a grilled cheese sandwich. On the way back up, I threw in another load of laundry. I sat back down. Cat meowed incessantly as my fingers, poised to begin typing, hovered above the keyboard.


But then...I just forced myself. The opening line of my first draft is always, and I mean ALWAYS, horrific. Only in the revision stages does the first line remotely shine. But the pressure to build a great opening line haunted me, so I tinkered with it for far too long before telling myself to move on already!

Do you know how great it feels to be writing another book? It's magnificent! There may be something slightly off in my brain, because I truly love deleting my ridiculous first line over and over to come up with a sassy opening. Joy fills me as my characters come to life and dictate the scene. The book was a shadow in my mind but now is filling with color, and nothing could tear me away from writing every day. Not even my gigantic, meddling cat.

Wish me luck as the draft takes shape. I've gotten over my worst first draft hurdle: writing the first line. I wonder what other authors' worst hurdles are? Hmm...I'll have to start asking around. Enjoy your week!

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