by Sioux Roslawski
There are two comedians who—every time I see them perform—make me snort and laugh out loud. When I watch them do stand-up I place bets on the absorbency of my pantyliner. Every single time they give stellar performances. I’ve never seen them have a bad night. I’ve never considered their performance merely mediocre.
Sadly, one of them took his own life in 2014. But the other is Chris Rock. His delivery, his pointedness, his facial expressions make him irresistible to me.
Recently Chris Rock was on the David Letterman show. Dave was speaking of Rock’s new movie, Top Five, and asked him how long it took to write the screenplay.
“It took three months just to get out of the suckin’.”
Letterman said, “I didn’t know you could write away the suck.”
Writers know this all too well. Most of the time, our first drafts are so far from stellar, they’re in another solar system. However, what we do with that horrible draft separates the whiners from the shiners.
Let Your Critique Partner/Group Pounce On It
You may think there’s nothing of merit in the piece. It’s directionless. The characters are wooden. The ending isn’t anything to savor. Whatever. Have no fear. Your writing colleagues will be able to offer some possible solutions. Be sure to tell them what you’re wondering about, and I can almost guarantee they will deliver.
Dive into some well-written books that would be on a bookstore shelf next to yours. There might be a line that makes your creativity explode. You might stumble on a strategy they used that you can modify. Even if you can’t point to one thing in particular you got from your little reading rest-stop, you’ll absorb and assimilate--and your own writing will benefit.
Save, See and Slash
Don’t delete that draft that’s stuck in Suckville. Save it. Examine it so you can see what is worth keeping, and slash the rest.
Several years ago I finished NaNoWriMo victorious. In one month I had written 52,000-something words. I thought I had something clever and fresh and connected. However, after a closer look, along with my writing friends reading it (writing critique friends don’t let their friends write crap), I realized I’d spent a solid month suckin’. I licked at my wounds for a while, and then I read. I read lots. Freeman by Leonard Pitts, Jr. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. Sandra Dallas. Jodi Picoult. And when I read Pat Conroy’s South on Broad, Conroy gave me a gift: a three-word question that I am going to use towards the end of my WIP.
So, if your first draft isn’t anything to rave about, don’t despair and don’t discard. If you do something with it—instead of whining—you might just end up with a winner…
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