Putting your first draft away to rest can be a challenging time and hard on the emotions.
- Euphoria. You have finished the first draft of your novel! You sit back in your chair and feel a burst of what only can be described as literary euphoria. After weeks / months / years / decades it’s finally complete. You have a huge smile plastered across your face and loved ones are actively encouraged (as opposed to being told to stay away) to come over to congratulate you on your literary achievement. To say that you and your draft novel have become close lately is an understatement. You have seen more of your draft during the last few months than you have of your loved ones, who have been left to fend for themselves.
- Denial. An hour later after writing ‘The End’ you happily sit down to start editing your first draft. You ignore the little voice in your head saying ‘put it away’ and ‘let it rest’. Why do you need to put your beloved draft away? It is a perfect first draft and could very well be sent off to an agent (*take a few deep breaths…ignore the crater sized plot hole in chapter five, the inconsistencies in chapter eight and the troubling issue with one of the main characters throughout*). Why would you want to waste time on this literary gem? In your head you might as well just crack on whilst it is still fresh on the page. Sigh!
- Post Completion Emotion. Editing is not going well. After a good ten minutes you have found zero things wrong with it and every time you think about ‘hurting it’ (making significant changes to resolve those issues you are happily ignoring) your eyes start to well up. Post completion emotion hits you hard and you reach for the tissues. There is nothing wrong with your literary offspring! How can you hurt something you love so dearly? You hold your manuscript close to your chest and rock gently, in a similar fashion to soothing a small baby. The annoying little voice in your head starts again to tell you to ‘put it away!’
- Emotional Farewell. A writer friend has brought you to your literary senses after a few tense messages and emails (heavy usage of devil faced emojis from them and sad-faced weeping emojis from you). You have decided to put it away for a bit. The farewell between you and your draft novel is heart wrenching. You and your draft novel have been together for weeks, months or even decades. You have spent a serious amount of time together. You can’t imagine a day where you and the ‘gang’ (your characters) don’t hook up. Wiping away tears and sobbing loudly you place your draft in a drawer / folder / box / crate. Loved ones rush to your side telling you that it’s going to be ok and that the ‘gang’ will be back soon. “How will I cope without them?” you wail, as some loved ones encourage you to go take a nice warm bath whilst others mutter “I get the feeling we are in for a rough couple of weeks!”
- Reunion. You enter a period of intense writer suffering and longing, involving many social media updates about how much you miss your draft, how your life has deteriorated without your draft and how silent your head feels. You walk around house like a lost soul. Life’s not the same without ‘the gang’ – inc. those minor animal characters. One day you wake up feeling different. Something has changed. You calmly take out your draft novel again. All that post completion emotion has gone. You are in the right frame of mind now to edit it and ‘hurt it’ if need be. A good ten minutes into your edit you can be heard saying things like “what the hell was I thinking when I wrote this?’ and ‘what a pile of literary wrong!” Little do you know that this is when the magic starts!
Take it easy out there writers, parting with a draft novel is not easy.
I have been a teary mess since saying farewell to mine.
photo credit: Pexel.