First drafts. Generally, when I write a first draft, I don’t want or expect it to be perfect. I like to see some of the real story buried in there somewhere, a shape I can work with, some vague form of my original vision. But now I’m almost finished with the fourth rewrite of my novel Shatterbox, and it’s still not there.
I’ve stuck with it all this time because I know it’s a good story. Perhaps a great story. And in the process, I think I’ve come to look at rewrites differently.
I’ve heard people say that the first draft is for getting ideas down on paper, and later drafts are for molding the actual story. That’s what I did for this novel. My current rewrite is a swarm of ideas, possibilities, and continuity issues. I feel like someone went shopping for all the paint they could find, and went crazy with it. It’s a mess. It’s an exhausting mess. But at least I began painting.
Previous drafts have been all about choosing my brushes and gathering the colors. This time, I cracked open the cans and started smearing stuff around. I was hoping to find the shape, but dangit, it’s out there.
I’ve experimented as much as I can. I’ve dumped all the paint and I’ve mushed it around. I’ve gotten out all my ideas. Now it’s time to begin gathering the pieces, sorting through what works, and what doesn’t. When I’m done I may actually see the real shape of my novel. I don’t think it will be pretty, but it will be a good prototype.
This has been a tough time for me with this novel, and I’m anxious to hear what you guys think – have you ever gone through this before? Is it good to view this as a time of creative-unfettering, or am I just lying to myself, finding more excuses to keep rewriting?
On a sidenote, I wanted to apologize for not posting last Wednesday. We had some bad weather and the internet was down for a couple of days. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...