See the link at the top of this blog that says “Fiction?” That’s supposed to be a link to a page that lists all of the completed or semi-completed works of fiction that I’ve done over the course of my supposed career as a writer (note: even if one does not make money from doing something, it probably doesn’t count as a career, but what other word can he or she use that doesn’t sound like they’re a complete failure in their craft?), but looking back at my body of work, it’s been mostly drafts that have sit in a pile of manuscripts, unedited. They are merely relics from the past where my taste in fiction were a part of my own identity and personality, shifting from one year to another, like seasons.
For me, that’s completely okay. These thick pads of paper, printed with Precious Company Ink™ are a reminder, tangible proof of the efforts that I’ve put so far into writing something, anything. There’s a rawness to a shitstain of a first draft that I absolutely love, much in the way of a slab of rock that is not yet a David. A Michelangelo looks at that slab and sees the David inside, and proceeds to chisel away at everything that isn’t David, until its magnificent form comes into existence and becomes a timeless piece of history.
Of course, I don’t consider myself to be a Michelangelo to begin with, which is probably the reason why those manuscripts have not gone any further than that first completed step. I look at these giant slabs on my coffee table, and wonder if they’ll ever become Davids, or at the very least, become something more than first drafts. I’m frankly too scared to go on. That stabbing question one is asked in fiction, “are you afraid to fail, or rather, afraid to succeed?” is horrendously cliche at this point, but only because of its truth. You’re either one or the other, and it’s a matter of identifying which one applies to you (though I really should be asking myself that question).
I’m scared, yes. But maybe I’m simply more overwhelmed than scared. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been hesitant to reach in and feel vulnerable about my writing; I’ve written during the most tumultuous times of my life, and it’s helped me escape my doubts and even overcome them. It’s a matter of that next step beyond just writing. Editing. Knowing how paragraphs fit in with each other. Having a keener eye for details that need to stay consistent from page to page. Making every word count. I can do that, but when I’m looking at a giant slab, and chipping away for the first time, I get impatient. I can’t see the David in front of me, and I’m afraid that I never will.
The only solution to this is to simply keep chipping away. He will come into form. Every single needless paragraph, sentence, and word, will eventually be removed, and others will take its place. It’s exactly like the approach I take with writing, except a bit differently. I might even become a better writer as a result of looking at my own mistakes and moments where I know I was rushing for word count here and there (few and far in between, personally, but can be a serious offender for anyone when under the duress of a wordcount/deadline event like NaNoWriMo). There’s nothing to be afraid of, Erick. Just chip away, much like you do when you punch the keys for Gods sake. It’s the same relentless dedication between the two steps; you just use different tools for each one.
I just need more practice with the latter of the two. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? I’m surely not alone in this regard.