Writing the first draft, the second time.

Hi, people who like words!

I thought I would blog about how—now that I’m a published author—I’m simply teeming with confidence about the writing process as I work on my second book.

Except . . . if I wrote anything like that, I’d be what’s known as: LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE!

Holy schnikies, it’s like someone slammed a massive reset button and I’m back to I-totally-suck-as-a-writer mode. To be fair, I am trying to write while suffering from an illness that causes episodes of severe vertigo. It feels like I’m composing sentences while whirling inside a tornado. Still, I reread some of my latest pages from the second book in the Life in the ‘Cosm series and wanted to lock myself up in The Couch Fort of Shame.

So, I lamented like a great big lamenting thing last night and thought my first book was a complete fluke and how could anyone think I’m an actual writer and [insert self-pitying gunk here].

Then this morning on Instagram, beantownbugzy posted this quote:

The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. ~ Terry Prachett

Oh yeaaaah! I’d forgotten that. When I began writing ‘Cosm, most of the time I was simply assembling bones. That’s my expression for mapping out a chapter, kinda like building a skeleton of words. Once I’ve done that, I might go back and add the organs and tissues and muscles and skin, or I might assemble bones for a few more chapters before going back. It was important for me to get my ideas down and discover the characters and where they were going. At that point, I was writing for myself alone. The first draft of your work really is you telling you the story. Terry Prachett got that spot on!

Comparing the work-in-progress of book two to the completed work of ‘Cosm is just unfair. Bad Cait! Years went into completing that first book, and a poop-ton of self-editing and professional editing. Sure it’s much better than my current pages, because my second book is just a baby! Not even full term. It’s a fetus book! I have to be patient as it forms into the story it’s supposed to be.

The important thing right now is for me to embrace the bad writing, and to write badly with zeal. This is the way to the end of the story and a completed first draft. After that, I’ll know my characters like family and will be fully aware of their journey, so I can have a blast filling in the empty spots and making the chapters more robust.

I am so grateful for authors like Terry Prachett, who say encouraging things. Their words are like a nectar for the soul. I bet even Terry needed pep talks and boosting quotes like this, too. Because there seems to be one great equaliser in the sea of writers and authors out there: we all think we suck.

Spoiler: you don’t suck. Keep going. That’s the ticket. Just. Keep. Going.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must dash. Gotta assemble some bones in chapter 12.



Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, published by Renaissance PressAvailable now



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