I had a novel idea today (no pun intended, honest). I thought I might type up the draft chapter I wrote for what I currently call The Quinta. This might not sound ground-breaking, but I’ve been stopping myself from getting any further into it until I have finished my young adult manuscript.
I’ve been so busy working on some short stories that I haven’t finished the edit on Queen@16 that I had set as a goal. In fact, I had all but forgotten about Brigit.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I hate her. I want her to leave me alone. I want to be done with her.
I love first drafts – they are like summer; rushing headlong, drinking Coke and wine and dancing on the beach and making new friends. With the first draft nothing can go wrong because the purpose is only to put words on the page. So easy.
Come winter, when I pull a first draft out of its autumn drawer to read it through, a draft blows through me as I realise there are gaps everywhere.
Then there is analysis to be done; there’s half a plot, blurred characters with odd motivations, but there’s no chance of running back down to the beach to see what happens – what new folk one might chance upon. Not if you want to finish something for a change.
Rewriting is staying with the people you already have, figuring out what they need. Hanging around to make things work.
It’s rereading chapters until they are so familiar you are blind. It’s threading sentences through and trying to match the colours, tilting your head to see if others will see where the join is. Removing words. Squinting at the page to see whether it’s better without them. Scything away chapters that you love, but no longer fit.
And all the while there is the calendar, days falling away, seasons come and gone. Summer raises its eyebrows and beckons with a smile, as though to say ‘Start something new. A first draft will be so much fun.’