Second Draft Blues

I hate second drafts. At this point, as the writer, you’ve finished the story once, but you know that you will throw away 99% of it in the second draft. But this is not why I hate second drafts. Its the revision.

In second draft revision, I’ve found myself in stages of major story reconstruction while simultaneously fixing passive voice sentence structure and cliche scenes. I almost never have moments of pure “flow”–just free wheeling fun where I’m creating the story–there are always concerns of whether the story has got its shit together (in a manner of speaking) or if I’m just writing a exhaustingly self effacing monologue that pokes fun of the sf/fantasy genre and poorly imitates a Neil Gaiman short story.  (Note: I bring this up because I have a unknown number of trunk short stories from high school and the beginning of University that tried and failed at the task.)

And, the truth of it is that there’s no easy way around the revision. You put in the hours, the days, and whatever it takes to get you from beginning to middle to end. Then when you have something vaguely story shaped, your writing workshop (if you  belong to one) reads it and tells you that you may need another draft. And you repeat, and sometimes on the worst of days it feels like the revision is ad infinitum. But persist (like I am) and you may surprise yourself with something original.

On a personal note, I finished up the second draft of a story I started during the summer, and submitted it to two writing workshops at the start of September. The comments were helpful and  for the most part fixed glaringly obvious flaws in the story.  Due to school and other commitments I put off second draft revisions on another short story I finished over the summer. But, being honest here, the first draft sucks. I’ve rescued the best bits that I can from that train wreck and I’m attempting to Frankenstein the next iteration together. But, I did get out 430 words tonight and it looks pretty good down the road for the story.  I wonder what it’ll be like to write a novel that’s at least ten times longer than any short story I’ve written so far and revise that… Your thoughts? Anyone out there actually like second drafts or revision?

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