I feel kind of bad for virtually anyone within earshot of me the past few days. To anyone who has endured my tortured artist rantings: Thank you, and I’m sorry. It’s just that first drafts suck.

In December, I randomly decided to go back to school. I signed up for Creative Writing I at Seminole Community College, a class that I always wanted to take, but never had the guts to sign up for. (I like to say that I didn’t have time, but fear played a pretty big part of that. I feel so much better now that the truth is out.) And for the past two months, it has been a wonderful experience. One night a week, I get to hang out for 3 hours with a bunch of wonderful writerly people and, well… write stuff. I’ve learned a lot, and it has definitely motivated to create more and reminded me of my first dream, much like NaNoWriMo did last year.

And then… we get down to the business of writing.

We’ve started workshops, something that has beyond intimidated me, but seems a lot less scary after seeing a few of my fellow writers go through it last week. It’s fun to sit in a circle and help other people make their manuscripts better… fun and rewarding. I’m just not so sure I’m ready to watch my own words get analyzed and picked apart.

Regardless, my story is due in two days. Next week: to the lions! (Not really. They’re nice, helpful people.)

Tonight, I finished writing the first quick and dirty draft of my story. I decided to revisit one of my favorite NaNo characters when he was a teenager and write a little story about his family and a defining moment of his life. I set out to craft a tender coming-of-age story, in which a functional yet offbeat family comes together in the face of tragedy, and a young man finds his true calling in life. Something sweet and heartwrenching and profound like that.

And you know what? Hemingway was right. “The first draft of everything is sh*t.” (Pardon the language, but you know it’s true. He said it, not me. And he’s the master.)

There’s an odd dynamic about writing a draft knowing other people will read it. I forgot how cantankerous that Cranky Inner Perfectionist Editor can be. Somehow, writing a 20 page story should be a piece of cake after cranking out a 150+ page novel in a month, but it’s actually way tougher. I miss that reckless rush of dashing off words and images at a frantic pace, knowing that even the silliest ideas can have glowing potential and nobody has to see the mess but me.

So I told CIPE to take a hike. Sort of. And she did, and my story is a mess. But there’s something redeeming about picking through one of those drafts, looking for usable gems, and maybe it should be a little dirty so my writer friends can help me with the polishing next week. At this point, pride is the only problem.

The draft is way over the limit with 6 pages to cut, so tomorrow the Editor and I have a lunch date. We’re going to take a red pen and hack away at the rambling, glorious chaos. It’s going to be great and scary and a little bit painful.

But that’s what creating is all about, right? Of course. I just hope I can edit the story better than I did this blog post. :)

By the way, I think I’ve discovered why people write fiction, or at least why I do. All the fun of imaginary friends, without people questioning my sanity. It’s awesome.

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