First time's a charm 🎉
Draft number one: DONE!
In my last newsletter, I promised that I would finish the first draft of my brand new novel by the time I sent this one, and reader: I did it! Earlier this week, with a few days to spare, I wrote a scene that felt like a resting place, and that was it.
First draft. Done.
After I shut my laptop, I didn’t pop a bottle of champagne or dance around my desk. I didn’t even mention the momentous occasion to my husband. Instead, I took the dog on his morning walk, ate my usual breakfast of yogurt and granola, returned to my desk, and dove directly into my day job.
It’s not that a first draft isn't worth celebrating. It’s only that I’ve been here before. There is a draft, yes, but the book itself still has a very long way to go. The main characters’ early incarnations do not match their final forms. There are repetitive conversations that hit the same emotional notes. That final scene, I realize now, borrows a bit too much from a book I recently read and loved. We're talking years of revision and rewriting, if my usual habits hold. And that, more than anything else, is what I find most thrilling.
A lot of writers like to talk about how much they hate writing. That is torturous and difficult, depressing and isolating. I can't relate. Sure, I have bad days. I often fear the thing I’m working on is a waste of time. I’m jealous when friends and acquaintances sell books. I occasionally want to throw my laptop out a window when I can’t figure out how to make a chapter work.
But even in those moments, the early morning hour I spend at my desk with my coffee and my current project is my favorite part of the day. I'm not a masochist. If I didn't love writing, if I didn't think I was good at it, I would simply do something else.
Which is why the story of my first draft didn't end the morning I finished it. I write in Scrivener but there's something about a hard copy that makes it easier to read and revise. Even though I plan to take a few weeks away from this book before diving into draft two, I still wanted to hold it in my hands. And so I shelled out $20 and printed the whole document - all 79,000 words of it. When I got home from Office Depot with my fat stack of paper, I flipped through the pages and read a sentence here, a paragraph there. Phrases I'd forgotten about, descriptions that made me flush with pride.
On Monday, I acted as if what I’d done - a first draft in six months, during a pandemic - was no big deal, that the real work was just beginning. But holding the draft in my hands, feeling its weight, felt special. Momentous. A possibility made real. A door to step through. A place I can visit, again and again, without ever leaving my desk. 💛
Snack of the Week
At the beginning of March, back when lockdown was just beginning, my husband insisted we buy some vegetable seedlings just in case the grocery stores shut down due to the virus. That seemed kind of paranoid...at first. Now, I'm glad for his foresight, because every day we get a tiny harvest from our quarantine garden, and it is so delightful! My favorite are the cherry tomatoes (far superior to regular tomatoes) which taste best when eaten right off the plant.
A few weeks ago I signed up for Anti-Racism Daily, a newsletter dedicated to education and awareness around racial justice issues. It also includes actions - some small, some bigger - that you can take to help dismantle white supremacy. 💌
So You Want to Write? The Cut. "[L]earn how to forgive yourself — because the writing will be bad for so much longer than it’s ever good." If you need some creative motivation, this roundup of writing advice from nine excellent authors should do the trick. ✏️
‘Success Addicts’ Choose Being Special Over Being Happy, The Atlantic. I did not expect to relate to this article, and then I got to this sentence: "The goal can’t be satisfied; most people never feel 'successful enough.' The high only lasts a day or two, and then it’s on to the next goal." 😬
Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation, NY Times. "Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself." John Lewis wrote this essay shortly before his death, and I urge you to read it. ❤️
A Tiny Challenge
Is there something in your life that can be improved, even a little? A recipe you can fine-tune, a poem you can revise, a floor you can shine, a friend you can check in with? Give it a whirl and be grateful for the opportunity to make something better.
See you in two weeks! 💌
Huge thanks to Carol D. and Rebecca M. Your generous coffee donations helped get this first draft over the finish line! ✨⭐️💫
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