A first draft is a wonderful feeling. Everything is right, nothing is wrong, and at the end of the process you pat the pile of pages proudly and say well done!
The real work begins in the re-writes. And it is work. (never coal mining but – ) Re-writing can be fun. You’re discovering the path and the purpose of what came instinctively first time round. It can be painful. And slow. It takes more time than a first draft. When you’re in the throws of a first draft you just write, you don’t care if things don’t make sense, you don’t care if someone says something stupid, you just write, write, write and get from beginning to end. Wheee! Everything’s all right! I’m writing a first draft!
Re-writes aren’t quite so forgiving. I’m working on a scene for a play where I’ve clarified the purpose and wants of one particular character. That’s great, bully for me, but that means that every line for this character has to be changed. My copy of the first draft has every single line for this character circled, and they have to be modified to fit the path and the purpose. And I do one at a time. And sometimes I stare at the computer screen for a half an hour, type for three seconds, tipa tapa tipa tapa and there’s the line! And then I have to go to the next one!
It took most of the day to take out all of a character’s lines and decide that there were going to be replaced with a number of variations on the words “More Mindy.” Now, it’s actually very appropriate and because of the variations, will sound intense and creepy, which is the intention. But lord. A whole day.
It’s draining because you don’t fly through page after page. You can’t say that you wrote 20 pages. You may only write one. All day long and you get…..one page.
Sometimes you don’t even get one page. Sometimes you spend all day ‘thinking’ about the dialogue. You don’t even get anything on the page! That’s always hard to explain to people. That thinking is working. It looks like I’m watching tv, but I’m actually ‘thinking’
I worked all day Tuesday, and yesterday and today, and I’ll be at it all day tomorrow. And by all day I mean staring at the computer, tipa tapa tipa tapa – one line! I was hoping to get to the end by tomorrow, but that’s not going to happen. Ugh. Ah well. Whaaaah she gets to write all day long for a living. Whaaaah.