According to Hemingway …

… The first draft of anything is always shit. 

On November 23rd, at precisely 8:13 pm (yes, I noted the time), I finished the first draft of my first novel. It took me almost exactly a year to write it, in between raising two boys, running a business and trying to keep my house from being reported to the authorities for being a health hazard. Since I was told it is never a good idea to read anything you’ve written until it has sat for a little while, I didn’t look at it again until this month. A few days ago, I printed it out … all 283 pages of it, and have finished my first read-through. And let me be the first to tell you, Mr. Hemingway in all his glorious wisdom …

Was absolutely right.

Yep. I got me a nice big pile of shit right here.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It may be shit, but it’s GOOD shit. It’s a pretty damn good story, if you don’t mind me saying so myself. And it should be, for rolling around in my addled little brain for all these twenty years or so. It might be a bit cliche, but a story truly is like wine. A good one takes time to age & ferment. But you can’t drink wine right from the barrel, right? Okay … maybe you can, but you wouldn’t want to. You might get grape skins &  stems in your teeth. And let me tell you, there’s plenty of stems in my story to filter out. For example, I think I use the words “really”, “even” and “very” at least ten times on every page. My main character sighs and shrugs her shoulders WAY more than is necessary for a girl in her predicament. And her love intrest? He may be dark, sexy and extraordinarily witty, but if he raises his eyebrows and grins one more time, I may just have to smack him. And what’s with all the eating? Every time I turn a page, it seems somebody’s chowing down on something. Hmmm … maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m constantly feeding someone in my “real” life. Either that, or I shouldn’t sit down to write on an empty stomach.

But all this can be fixed. Small problems, really. As I said, the story itself is pretty strong. Yes, there are a few holes and inconsistencies; plenty of parts that make no sense or have nothing whatsoever to do with the plot. But nothing that can’t be sewn up easliy. It’s just going to take some time and lots and lots of revisions.

And of course, plenty of wine.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jennerosity
    Jan 19, 2009 @ 00:15:13

    Congratulations for finishing the read through! I think it’s great that you can acknowledge that your story (a) needs work and (b) is still good anyway.

    You are right that everything can be fixed and now you get to start the journey of fixing them.

  2. Ilana
    Jan 19, 2009 @ 00:38:13

    You know, this is pretty much how I feel about the story I’m working on right now.
    Lots of potential – but there’s a lot of editing that needs to happen.

  3. coffeegirl88
    Jan 19, 2009 @ 01:35:08

    Glad you can see the good through the crap. Now get to work fixing it.

    Oh, and just to be a snot. If you have skins and stems in a barrel of wine, you’ve done something very, very wrong. I’m just saying. 😉

  4. kimberlyfoley
    Jan 19, 2009 @ 15:13:59

    Cynthia – That is why you’re the first on my list for Beta Readers — so you can check to see if all my metaphors work! Consider yourself warned. ;-*

    In all honesty, if I tried to make wine, there probably would be stems and skins in the barrel.

  5. coffeegirl88
    Jan 19, 2009 @ 16:04:53

    And consider yourself warned right back. I read for you, you read for me.

  6. Darla
    Jan 19, 2009 @ 18:15:24

    Don’t be so hard on yourself…………. Dang girl. Like fine wine it takes T I M E….. Besides you need someone else to read it.
    Like me for instance……. LOL Just droppin a hint.
    Keep going, Life is a Journey.

  7. Melina
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 00:30:27

    You couldn’t have said it better! I’m going to try to adopt some of your attitude!

    Way to go on finishing the book, and good luck with the editing!

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