Does this sound familiar to you?
You sit down and you begin to write a short story or a novel. The words are flowing and you’re excited about the little world growing under your finger-tips. You put it aside and pick up a book. It’s good. In fact it’s excellent. The characters sing, the story compels you forward onto the next page, and every word is where it should be. Then you turn back to your first draft. How did you ever think it was good? It is a pile of steaming garbage and you never want to look at it again. You just can’t write. Nothing you do will ever be as good as the published book in your hand.
It sounds familiar to me, because for many years it was the story of my writing life. I believed the lie that good writers are born and not made. I believed that a bad first draft meant a bad book. I was easily discouraged, both by quality writing that I read, and by my own writing weaknesses
But over time I began to realise just how much of writing is in rewriting and editing. How different a first draft can be from the finished document. That by the time a book hits the shelf it has been heavily edited by the writer, it’s usually been critiqued by other writing friends, and then a professional editor has done their work.
But often writers when they start out don’t realise the steps involved in getting books as good as we see them on the shelf.
It is this kind of experience that lead to the creation of a new writing initiative I have become involved in called Writer-in-Motion. The idea is over the month of June, writers will put on their blog a short story at different levels of completion. First the unedited first draft (gulp). Then a self-edited version. A version edited by CPs (critique partners). And finally a professional editor will give their own thoughts to the piece. This means writers can have a glimpse at how writing changes as it is edited, and the writers involved will see the different ways other writers go about editing their work.
The short story will grow out of the following photo prompt:
(Isn’t it gorgeous!)
So, on Sunday Australian time, I’ll be posting my Short story. My unedited pile of steaming rubbish first draft.
And hopefully my humiliation will help others to see that writers are made, not born.
Here is the official blog for the initiative:
And here is you can find a list of editors and writers involved.