BURN THAT FIRST DRAFT
To my fellow young writers.
There’s no pain like disappointment.
Sure, everyone gets it. That moment when you try to do something and it just doesn’t work. But something is different about it when it’s a matter of life and death (okay, so a book just feels like that, it’s not really). I wrote this little memoir about my finishing the first draft of my book. If you feel the same way… you might enjoy this.
My hands were sweating, and my pupils had dilated. It was the most magnanimous moment for me since, well… forever. This was the moment when my dad began to read my book. What would he think of it? Was it as good as I hoped? Or was it the refuse that doubt surreptitiously promised? Indeed, was this my writing half’s requiem? I had my hopes. I had my doubts. But I didn’t know the truth. Any good writer will tell you that a story is a living, breathing being, but how often do those stories, just, keel over and die? Was mine on its deathbed— or worse yet, the executioner’s stand? I was soon to learn.
Beginning my book in July 19 of 2020, I had finished the largest draft a little less than a year later, on May 28. Over a five-sixths of my book was done after Christmas 2020 so I wrote most of it in six months. With its roots planted in a short story that had a more than shaky start, it’s surprising that my book ever got anywhere. Stunted and brutalized by both me and its editors, the story grew stronger even though culled.
A couple weeks before Christmas of 2020, I really began to write my book, entitled then as, Abyssal Dove. The book soon outgrew my title as I mulled over the long, confusing story for long hours at a time. The initial plot included many fictitious creatures, which weighed strangely on the balance of the storyline. Often churning out thousands a day, I know there were many times my keystrokes outran my plot. My book eventually evolved into Awaking the Trueborn with the addition of the Nightstrikers, a group of heroic people who strove protect innocent lives. I spun together the first Nightstrikers with characters Susan Fathom and Thaler Edwards in early May of 2021, ultimately adding hundreds more similar and gallant citizens of heaven. Through this long process of wandering ideas and caffeine augmented typing, it’s shocking that I ever completed the first draft of the lengthy book. But I did.
By the end of May, I had finished fervidly adding in the Nightstrikers, effectively creating a miasma of ideas all compressed into one bizarre book. At the breathtaking moment, I was finally ready to turn the story in to my dad, who would be my editor to start. After I had plenty of chances to tell friends my storyline without revealing its identity, as I enjoyed the confusion on their faces in those rare moments. I have outgrown that habit, thankfully, but I still remember one incident in particular where I tried a trick called ‘be a fictious character in real life’ or ‘be rude’, a s I now call it. The girl so didn’t deserve it.
In the end, I finally knew what my story was. Drafting a book has ups and downs, from purely wasting time to throwing out crass comments to nice girls. But the far worst was losing it all in the end. It was hard at times to admit the truth, and I owe a lot to my dad for continual forbearance. My book wasn’t exactly rubble, only it was. Unusable. I never realized how canted and undulating my story line was until my dad pointed it out. It was roundly unstable and unfixable, tainted with logic errors. But truthfully, the fact that I didn’t create an impeccable first draft really doesn’t matter, albeit having written a perfect book on my first try would have been more than delightful, I gained copious amounts of practice from that story. What started with a spinoff nine-hundred-word story gave me over two-hundred thousand words to write, twiddle, and play with. Plus, it has received hours of caricature from my family, effectively teaching them to use their imaginations at my expense (okay, that was snarky. True, they gave me a hard time, but I really deserved it). I, in the end, my book was an inexplicable mess, but I learned so much about determination, practice and even, myself. The words I have deprecated, written and spoken, were all a part of the process of writing and learning. But they are a place I am determined not to go back to. So, looking through the tears of my failure, like Christian in the Pilgrim’s Progress, and onward toward the light I think I can see an ultimate eucatastrophe, I can see that my story has suffered a horrendous, near fatal blow, but it lives on and on.
I call it Precipice and it’s on the horizon. Just wait.