Picture a steaming pile of rotting meat. Now dump lard on it. Now set the whole thing on fire.
Let the fire go out and then wait until flies start settling. When the first maggots appear, throw a bunch of rotten cheese on top of it.
Now we’re starting to approach how I feel about the first draft of anything I write.
Between October 20–when I found out about my book deal–and today, I’ve written first drafts of four additional chapters.
Four piles. Piles that will inevitably (fingers crossed) become lovely, literary, provocative, and hilarious, but not without help and not without revision.
The point is, I made the mess, horror that it is. Now I get to clean it up, which is the part I really enjoy. Without the nasty, raw material, there’s nothing to refine and sculpt.
Ernest Hemingway said “The first draft of anything is always sh*t.”
Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird has lengthy passages devoted to loving descriptions of just how bad she considers her first drafts.
Philip Roth has said that he barely even considers his early work on a project a draft. He simply “collects pages, then tries to see if any of them go together.”
If you’re a writer, just get your fingers moving, as often as you can.
If you want to write, just write. It can be pretty later.