Over at The Creative Penn last month Joanna Penn talked about finishing a first draft of her novel. As every writer knows, whatever the genre, there’s a ton of pride that comes with getting to the end of a first draft. But Penn is quick to address: it’s still only a first draft. There are re-writes and edits ahead. And besides which, she brings up an excellent point:
A while back I wrote about how writing is like Michelangelo creating David from a block of marble. The act of creation in turning a hulk of rock into a glorious sculpture. I was reminded of this at the Sydney Writer’s Festival when one of the speakers mentioned that writing a first draft is actually creating the marble itself, creating something out of nothing first. Then the subsequent rewrites and edits turn it from a block of stone into a beautiful sculpture.
I love that image. Love it, love it, love it. The first draft is only the marble. If only every writer could get that thought into their heads – the first draft is not the finished sculpture, it’s the marble from which we start to work. It’s the starting point, and not the finish line. Certainly it’s a great accomplishment to create something from nothing. But a block of marble, while beautiful, is no David. It has nothing on the beauty of a well crafted script. A truly finished product.
I will be planting this image in every playwriting class I teach from now on.