There’s an interesting thing that happens when you transcribe a (very) rough draft onto your computer: two different sides of your writerly self seem to develop, the good and the bad. There are moments when your fingers fly over the key, bringing up lines that blow you away. Then, there are moments where you have to pause and hesitate, because what you’re reading on the page is so bad that you have to force yourself to repeat it.
Check out this gem from the rough draft of Soulless, currently being transcribed from the hand-written hard copy:
““As impossible,” Veroh murmured bitterly, just loud enough for her companions to hear, “as Paravelle falling?” Her hands were balled tightly at her sides, her jaw set tightly. The Slayer could feel the cold anger and terror practically radiating from her and she found it slightly terrifying.”
When I typed that up, I had to laugh. One of my major annoyances in writing is repeated words, and there are two instances of them (or something close) within the same sentences (tightly/tightly, terror/terrifying). UGH. If I allowed myself to publish something like that, I’d volunteer to hang up my writing cap for good. Fortunately, that’s the beauty of a rough draft. It’s rough, it’s raw, it’s not really very good at all. And that’s where the real talent come in. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re a good writer, but more if you’re a good re-writer.
Granted, I’m sure there are some people who can plop down some words straight out of their heads and it’s beautiful and wonderful and needs very little reworking. But those people are extremely rare, and I am not hesitant to admit that I am not one of them. In fact, I revel in what I’m able to produce in the editing stage.
Now, part of this is because when I write things, I tend to write more than what I know I’m going to use, because, in my experience, writing is best as a subtractive art, like carving marble, where you take something away from the larger whole to make it into something more attractive. Of course, writing also has the benefit of being molded or having things added, more like clay, while marble is much less forgiving. It’s like Coco Chanel’s famous quote, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off,” only instead of fashion, it’s words, and it’s usually a lot more than one.
That’s why it’s so important to just keep writing, no matter how good or bad something is. You can always go back and change it. You should go back and change it. But if you don’t at least have the skeleton down (or, in my case, the bloated obese body in need to trimming), then what do you have? Don’t be afraid to write something awful. The majority of Soulless right now is pretty damn embarrassing, but I can guarantee that it’s going to be a lot better once I’m through with it.