One of the stories I’m working on at the moment is a teeny, tiny horror short about a man driving home one night only to be relentlessly pursued by a wall of darkness. Aside from needing to find a hundred different ways to say ‘darkness’, it’s not a particularly deep or challenging tale: there’s just the one character; there’s no underlying theme. It’s simple.
And, yet, it’s taking me ages.
I sat down this morning, with the end of the first draft in sight, and still didn’t manage to finish it. The first draft is, for me, the biggest obstacle to feeling satisfied with my writing. It’s the raw clay from which I shape my final story and, of course, it’s always going to be crap. It’s the [seemingly] insurmountable wall between the perfec] story that I have in your head and the [hopefully decent] story that I finally publish.
After several years of trying to perfect every paragraph before I moved on, and having my stories taking actual years before reaching completion, I realised that the best thing I could do was get on with writing my first drafts quickly and crudely. I find editing much easier than writing. The downside to this is that I will always have a terrible first draft hanging over me, and I need to keep telling myself that the final piece will be much, much better.
That’s what I was trying to do today: race towards the end of my first draft. I just couldn’t quite get there. I blame the fact that there’s a twist in the end, and I need some brainspace to work out how to construct it properly. Consequently those last few paragraphs probably need a writing session all of their own.
(Spoiler: I did, in fact, finish the first tomorrow)