What was I thinking?!

Ever had one of these moments?

Yep, it’s the famous Picard facepalm, and I had a major one this morning.

Y’see, someone read the second chapter of my novel and managed to figure out in the time it took to read the chapter and critique it something that I failed to see in almost 2 years of writing, revising, rewriting and editing.

I can’t help but feel like a total idiot (hence Picard up there) – but at the same time,  it feels great to finally know what it is that has been bugging me all this time. But this leads to a big problem. I have a feeling this issue is pretty much endemic throughout the novel (I won’t bore you with the details), and it’s made me realise something. The novel that consumed my life – made me giggle, made me cry, made me go all fluttery –  is a bit crap. in fact, it’s more than a bit crap – it’s a lot crap.

But you know what? I think I’m all right with that.

Yes, it means a lot of work from now on in, and no, I have no idea where I am going to find the time or the energy to actually undertake the overhaul this story needs (as I type, I am sitting on the floor with the laptop on the sofa; my 7 month old is rolling around in my lap trying to crawl (she hasn’t quite mastered it yet) and my 3 year old is sitting on my feet, playing with her dinosaurs) – but I am pretty pleased – and yes, proud – that I haven’t just dissolved into tears at the thought of all that time wasted.

Because it isn’t time wasted – it’s time served in an apprenticeship with a very steep learning curve. So, everyone out there sitting and despairing at how crappy their first draft is – you’re not alone. If you’re in danger of every single red pen in your house running out due to the amount of changes you’ve had to  pencil in – you’re not alone. If you’re staring at the screen, despairing over the sheer amount of work you have to do – you’re most definitely not alone.

But saying that – celebrate that crappy first draft! Because, after all, every diamond begins as just a big old lump of rock, and if no one dug up big old rocks, there wouldn’t be any diamonds in the world.

(Note – optimism subject to change depending on chocolate levels and time of day…)

5 thoughts on “What was I thinking?!

  1. Gerry Fenge says:

    The Picard facepalm – what a delightful discovery! (Sorry about the book, of course – although I dare say much can be done to sort it. Often a few judicious chops can work wonders. Or does it need re-slanting?) Am confident the great Elysia can succeed!

  2. John Taylor says:

    Claire, that feeling never leaves me when I write, but I also reached that stage you talk about – where I was all right with the crappiness of it – because I found out a long time ago that writing is HARD, it consumes you, it makes you despair and cry. But it also give back in spades, and when a day’s writing goes well, you can cry over something in the right places for once.
    Jean-Luc looked up with a steely glint in his eye. ‘Claire,’ he said. ‘Make it so!’

  3. Skylark says:

    I think anyone who is serious about their writing has been where you are (or shortly heading in that direction). I’ve found writing (and rewriting) my novel has been a bit like climbing a mountain with lots of false tops: euphoria on reaching the end of another draft; crushing disappoinment on realising it’s still not ‘there’; steely determination kicking in as eyes focus on the next stage.

    You’ll get there. In the meantime, have some more chocolate….:-)

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I had this exact moment a couple of weeks ago (though I recall a number of idle threats about my first draft and a fire!) so you’re definitely not alone! Think you’ve found the secret though – chocolate = hope.

    • Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth – I know that feeling well! I’ve just trashed my first chapter completely (rather than just putting it to one side in the ‘rewriting’ pile) and have decided that chapter 2 is the new chapter 1… and it had better start earning its keep! It’s amazing what wheels one little comment can start turning – I’ve changed so much since I wrote this, and sometimes I can’t believe how much things have changed in just a few weeks. One thing is for sure, I never worried this much when I wrote fan fic for fun!! xx

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