Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Perfection Rejection

Repeat after me, "First drafts are not perfect. First drafts are not perfect. First drafts . . . "

I'm far from perfect. In fact, I'm lousy at perfect. But that doesn't keep me from trying. And falling flat on my face.

Why do I expect myself to write any different than I live the rest of my life?

I've read Bird by Bird, where one of my favorite non-suspense novelists, Anne Lamott, gives me permission to have low expectations of my first draft. I love her for trying to help. I've read On Writing where Stephen King does pretty much the same thing.

So what gives?

Maybe there's something else going on . . .

CR: The Best Revenge by Stephen White.

It's all better with friends.


  1. First drafts are not perfect...esp if I write them! LOL! While I'm definitely not a perfectionist on my first draft, sometimes I wish I paid a little more attention. It would make revising a little easier. Not that I don't like revising, sometimes it's my favorite thing. But it's just that when I go back and read my rough draft is when I groan and wonder if I am really meant to be a writer. You know?

  2. I think we all live with that other monster . . . Doubt. There's a quote somewhere that I can't find right now--but it's something about the real writing begins after the first draft is done.

    I'm off to battle Perfection and Doubt. Both of whom are boogers and not exactly team players.

    Hang in there!

  3. Peg, I think I suffer from the opposite problem of doubt. While writing, I am always certain that I am creating the world's first ever PFD (Perfect First Draft). I read over the prior day's work, pat myself on the back, yup, it's true...what I have here on my screen is a genuine PFD. Rarer than hen's teeth. Or alien abductions.

    Imagine my surprise and horror when I hand that baby out to my group of trustys! Members of my writers group, a freelance editor whose wares I am lucky to get for free, carefully culled friends and family members, finally my agent. And ALL come back with criticism ranging from large to small! How can this be? It--was--perfect. The fall from grace moments in front of my machine, back when I was the sole reader, is terribly jarring.

    The funny thing is that this is true even though I know that a tumble to earth is coming. The next time I begin a first draft I will again believe that this time--by George--I've really done it.

  4. Jenny, I laughed out loud reading your comment. Love the faith and optimism you have!

    During my FIRST ever attempt--before actually learning anything about writing--I was sure I was soon to be 'discovered' and snatched from obscurity.

    Crud . . . I know there's a quote about getting published and elevating one's status to obsurity, but I can't put my hands on it.

    At any rate, I sort of think I would like your blind optimism. At least it wouldn't create a stumbling block during the process.

  5. Ah, well, since we all end up at the same point (months of honing, successive mutations [in my lesser moments I might say mutilations], and other attempts at revision) we might as well be in denial about it along the way! Keep at it, Peg, imperfect as it may be...I am excited to hear what you come up with!