The Second Draft


According to E.L. Doctorow,

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.

I’m inclined to agree with him.

My first draft written for NaNoWriMo was 50,246 words long. I started rewriting it in December. As of right now, I’ve completed acts 1 and 2 of my second draft, and it’s at 61,514 words with more to come.

When November ended, I didn’t really have a story. It was more like snapshots found in a shoebox. Some were dramatic, bursting with energy and feeling. Some were out of focus, unfinished, or aimless. Some were poised and perfect without any life.

I didn’t have a full story. I definitely didn’t have an ending. I knew what I wanted to happen, but I was still trying to figure out the how and the why, not to mention the when. I started to rework it into a manuscript. Scenes were deleted or rewritten. Characters were introduced or obliterated. Some were repeatedly killed and brought back to life. Motivations changed. Backstories were developed.

And the more I rewrote, the further away the ending became.

These are the voices that have plagued me during this process:

    • You should kill off that character.

    • Why are you including this? What has this got to do with anything?

    • You can’t say that when you’ve already said this thirty pages ago.

    • Was this word used in 1914 America?

    • Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?

    • Congratulations, you have just written yourself into a hole and destroyed your climax.

    • Whatever you do, the ending cannot be like Lost.

    • What are you writing? You do realize that your character sounds like someone out of a Wes Anderson film/The Hunger Games/Wuthering Heights/As I Lay Dying?

    • Have you got a title yet?

    • No, that cannot be your title. It’s too pretentious/silly/lame/harlequin/Woody Allen.

    • I hate this character.

    • Turn off the Internet.

    • Turn on the Internet and Google “maximum sentence for murder in the first degree.”

    • You really need to learn how to spell “subpoena.”

    • Maybe you should have been an accountant.

    • Yes, next time you can write a dystopian young adult novel if you really want to, but you have to finish this one first.

    • Stop Google searching The Hunger Games.

    • Change that name. Now.

    • You know what? I don’t think third person omniscient is the right perspective for this novel. You should go back and rewrite it all in first person.

    • You spend too much time creating the ultimate writing playlist.

    • The only child who speaks like that is Renesmee Cullen. Fix her. Fix her now.

    • Aren’t you ashamed you know who Renesmee Cullen is? Because I am.

And while this might sound like a pessimistic post, the truth is that I’m feeling pretty good about myself write now. I’m rather proud and confident in pressing on with this story.

I like to have deadlines, so here’s one for you to all hold me accountable to:

    To reach the ending by Wednesday, February 15.

And then I can go back and change it all again.

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human condition.

Graham Greene

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7 thoughts on “The Second Draft

  1. Hey, that’s my deadline that I’ve imposed on myself as well for my book titled “Unbroken Souls.” It is a daunting task writing and I hate putting the first person in, but I need to connect all my stories with a narrative that I’ve collected in Ukraine, U.S. and Kazakhstan since 2001. Feb. 15th is the deadline for me and I’m duty bound to send off a cover letter, table of contents and two chapters to a publisher. Do or die!

  2. Hahaha – you certainly had a perfect NaNo experience from what I can tell! It isn’t just about getting words and story out, but scaring up all those funny things our inner editors spew out while we try to move forward in the writing process.

    The only letigimate thing your brain spewed is this —-> Whatever you do, the ending cannot be like Lost.

    Agreed. Nothing should end like that ever. I need a time machine to prevent Lost from ending like that as it is.

    Anyway, press on and keep feeling good. You’re writing and sticking to it, and all kinds of valuable things are happening. And thanks for the giggles.

  3. That quote by E.L. Doctorow pretty much sums up my life, especially when it comes to a “good spot” in my writing and I can hear my characters in my head clamoring to get on paper.

    Also, I love the random thoughts from your brain and can totally identify. Good luck meeting your deadline before going back and doing it all over again.

    • Thank you! I was trying to explain to someone in my family what it was like with all of these characters shouting in my head, and I realized how schizo I sounded! It was a relief to realize that I’m not the only one.

  4. Pingback: The Second Draft: An Update « WanderLust

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