Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I've been tempted lately to view my habit of writing messy, random, spontaneous first drafts as a sign that I am unskilled and destined never to be a published novelist. Then I thought about what it is I do...follow wild threads of my imagination down unknown corridors. Run free, surprise and exhilarate myself. Essentially, I play. My written creative play is not that different from what I did with my imagination as a child, only I'm doing it in words with the goal of coming to some greater understanding. I think it's actually quite good for me.

I also know how to do the ordering, polishing, blitzing, gutting and renovating that turns a draft into something that might impart joy and meaning to other readers, but there's nothing wrong with my process.

What's wrong is that I get impatient. I want to be perfect right away, even though I like the unbridled messy part. In fact, I like that part the best. I like waking up in the morning and wondering where in my own fiction I might travel that day. I like probing the far reaches of my own creativity--and surprising myself.

I think there is too much emphasis for artists on production, money-making and validation. We're taught to want to be like American Idol hopefuls--fighting and competing toward that million dollar prize, rather than just making the music that's in our souls.

I suppose you might think, "She'd change her tune if she got a book deal." I don't think so. I still have to value this part of the process--the reckless, strange, scary unknown writing part, before I can ever appreciate or become good enough to succeed at the other end of it.

I hope that other artists out there remember to enjoy the imperfect part of the process, or can learn how to, because it's important. Crucial even.


At 6:27 PM, Blogger tracer said...

I admire your ability to be so playful in your first drafts. Sometimes I get down on myself for dawdling with my language too much and never getting around to the bigger picture of plot and such. But we do what brings us joy. If there isn't that, why bother?

At 10:26 PM, Blogger Laini Taylor said...

Sing it, sister. I hear you. I myself do not always take joy in the wild messy part, alas. It's scary. Do you realize. . . ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN? ANYTHING AT ALL? Yes, yes, I see that that could be exciting, but it's also SCARY! I AM taking joy in the mess more often these days though, but it's always interspersed with days of "Ew, what a mess. I must stop what I am doing and clean this up!" Ah well, whatever works!

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Tracy: Thanks. I think we forget the point of a first draft--it's the base coat of paint. I have been digging up old stories that I wrote BB (that's before Bennington...) and I'm shocked at how rich and startling and full of voice they are. Then I went to grad school. hahahahah.

I need my first drafts. I need it to be wild, so I can come back later and tame it--which gives me an equal amount of pleasure.

Laini: Ah, come on...I have a feeling there's a part of you that loves the deep dark unknown as much as the're also so good at the cleaning up your FIRST PUBLISHED BOOK proves :)

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Oh, how I wish I could be playful...Well, I *can* be playful when writing creative non-fiction, and have a marvelous time, but I have a stick up my ass when I write fiction, for some reason. I edit (and edit, and edit...) as I go along, so it takes me ages to even write a 2,500 word story. Many times, I just get so frustrated and bogged down with getting it down perfectly, I lose interest, because the initial surge of creativity and passion for the story fizzles.


The Fizzler


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