Thursday, June 4, 2009

Embrace the crap

I had a nice book recommendation post almost ready to go for today, but I felt the need to wax eloquent on a different subject: crap.

Stay with me here! Not literally. We're talking figurative crap.

**Complete aside--Do you know how hard it is to find a picture for this subject that isn't sick and disgusting? I thought this was nice compromise. AND I was able to find some really cute cow cartoons that I'll be sharing next week. I'm still giggling over them.**

What I'm talking about is your rough draft. Now lean in closer and I'll tell you a secret. Closer... Closer... *whispering dramatically* Rough drafts are pretty much crap. And guess what? That's okay.

If you're like me, then deep down you have this little kernel of a dream, even though you know it's really silly, but it's still there waiting to pop like a kernel of delicious popcorn dripping in butter with just the right amount of salt (yum). *cough* Anyway, you dream about sitting at the computer, putting fingers to keys, and the most amazing story just flows from your brain to the screen. And it's perfect and wonderful, and the world is filled with daisies and fluffy bunnies and happiness and joy abounds. *angelic choirs singing*

(Isn't he cuuuuuute?! *squeal*)

Yeah, well. I don't know if that ever happens for *any* writer. Sooo, you might as well come to grips with the reality.

Sorry, no daisies, bunnies, or angelic choirs.

The rough draft is rough. In fact, it's most likely a bit terrible. I know I've said this before, but I think many writers strangle themselves on their own unrealistic perfectionism. And I say this because I was one of them. I LOVE books. And I read a lot of them. And so I knew that what I was writing was, in comparison to books I read and love, really terrible. Horrible. And so I would toss the book I was working on into the darkest depths of some box in my basement (or -gasp!- into the Recycling Bin).

Things really started working for me the day I finally realized, and internalized, the truth that my rough drafts are crap.

But the rough draft allows you to oil up your muse and gives you a framework to expand on. We watched our house be built from empty lot to completed home. And I have to tell you that a lot of the beginning steps were pretty darn ugly.

When they poured the foundation and there were bits of rebar sticking out of it, it was not attractive at all. (Very much like my outlines.) Then they put down the floorboards and started framing the house. That's your rough draft. Without that framework you can't ever get to a finished house with some stucco (but not the one style that looks like smoke damage so that everyone calls your house "The Haunted House" and uses it as a landmark like the one around the corner) and maybe some flower boxes on the windows, or a nice front porch with a swing. You have to start with the ugly framework.

So, the moral of this rambling post? Embrace the crap.


L.T. Elliot said...

I love the bunny pic! He is worth squealing over. The cow comic was pretty darn funny too! (I'm just glad you sifted through the crap (no pun intended) so that we don't have to see all the icky pictures.)

John D. Brown said at LTUE this year to embrace your crap. "Throw crap on the garden of your mind and things will grow." I loved that saying because it helped me to know that I needed to just write--then I could come back and worry about how pretty to make the crap look later. At least I was writing and getting the habits in place.

You're right. First drafts ain't pretty. But I've seen the results of your writing prowess so I'm safe in believing that your finished product will be gorgeous. =]

L.T. Elliot said...

BTW, your progress bar today is AWESOME!

Kimberly said...

I really, really needed this today. I've been avoiding my crappy rough draft and wallowing in all my favourite books lamenting my awfulness. I needed a kick in the ole pants. Thanks.

Jenn Wilks said...

I agree with Weston. Your progress bar is brilliant. I've been looking for something like that for a while now. In fact, I stole it for my blog. I hope that's OK. ;o)

Seriously, though, I have severe issues with wanting my rough draft to be pure brilliance personified. It's not a little kernel of a dream for me. It's, like, what I'm expecting out of myself. I really appreciate how you break it down in this post. There are not going to be any choirs singing while I write that dumb first draft!

So, I'm off to write some more words on my really crappy first draft.

Matthew Buckley said...

Great post. Very true.

I want to see the icky cartoons...

Jaime Theler said...

@L.T. You now top the list of my favorite people for today. Thanks!

I'm so glad I was able to help some of you guys!

You can get your own progress bar by Googling Nanowrimo word meter.

@ Matthew. They weren't icky cartoons, they were icky pictures. And you don't want to see them. I will share the funny cartoons soon. Promise :)

Haley Hatch Freeman said...

I saw your comment on facebook and had to check your blog out. I loved this post, it made me feel better about my crappy rough drafts. Thanks!

Chantele said...

Awesome post!:) I really needed to hear that today!

Julie Wright said...

This post is one of the many rasons I love you. Great info, insight, and humor.