December 5, 2019 in Dag

Is there anything worse than reading a first draft?

In the world of writing, there are many unpleasant tasks.

Writing query letters is definitely one of them. Figuring out what to say and how to say it and trying to second guess publishers is never particularly enjoyable. Another one is receiving rejection letters. Mind you, the way the industry works these days, that’s become a rarity. Usually you send a submission in and then you never hear anything again. Come to think of it, that’s not particularly enjoyable either.

But of all the unpleasant tasks that we writers must undertake, I reckon there’s one that is far, far worse than any other. One that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. One that sets me on edge, like fingernails running down a blackboard. One that makes me want to run into a dark room and hide.

What exactly is that task? Reading a first draft.

I’m currently reading a first draft. I just started a few days ago. And let me assure you, it’s definitely not pleasant.

You can probably guess the one I’m talking about. Yes, it’s the comedy, fantasy, romance, adventure satire one. The one I’ve been going on about for a couple of years now. As previously mentioned, I finished the first draft about 18 months ago. Since then, it’s been sitting quietly on my computer disc. I haven’t had the time, or the energy, or to be honest the courage, to take a look at it. Until now.

With the year ticking away, I realised this could not be put off any longer. I haven’t given so much as a glance at the story for over 18 months, so it was definitely time. I want to feel like I’ve made some progress before 2019 closes. And in order to do that, I had to re-familiarise myself with the story. The only way to accomplish this was to pick it up and give it a read.

Ouch. I can’t tell you how painful it is. I can barely get through a sentence without groaning. Did I really write that? What on earth was I thinking? How can I even consider myself to be a writer?

It’s amazing the sense of perspective you can get from 18 months away. It becomes so much easier to see the flaws, and believe me, they’re plentiful. But I can’t stop. Unpleasant as it is, I need to see this task through. Because every so often, amidst the horror, I actually read something that makes me think, ‘Oh, that’s actually not too bad.’ And that’s what keeps me going.

So I’ll push myself to the end. I’ll get that first draft read. And then the real fun will begin.


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