First drafting: elegant as a drunken duck

Baby Elisabeth with Daddy
Bub liked the hike. Then again, so would I if hiking meant a perma-hug!

So it’s been a while. Mostly because we’ve been having all sorts of baby adventures – sleep school, family visits, and even our first tiny family holiday. (Including a picnic at Hanging Rock, from which everyone returned, possibly because no one in the family is called Miranda. Phew. What a relief.)

As the capacity for schedule – and scheduled working time – returns our household to sanity, I’ve been cracking on with the first draft of my next project. (It has various titles. “Minion: a musical comedy” is what I’ve called the pinterest board. “Rabbit’s guide to ruining your own life” is how I’ve jokingly referred to it. When I’m trying to sound like serious business, though, I call it “Deadlands”.)

I’m now about three-quarters of the way through the first draft. This is a great point in a story. It’s where the finale comes looming into inescapable view, and all of those big, hefty story elements that have been built by the story come seamlessly and elegantly together.

Of course, this is just the first draft, so things are about as elegant as a drunken duck. Instead of coming seamlessly together, my story elements are still wandering the wilderness, or asleep on the job, or in one case completely non-existent (oops). This is the point where I realise that that subplot should have been going differently all this time, and that subplot needs to have started way earlier if it was going to end up over there. Not to mention that two characters who’ve never spoken need to have a fraught relationship, and my magic physics need to work differently.

For me, this is the most difficult point. It’s tough enough to keep the inner editor quiet while I slog through a complete draft, but when things are such a mess, she really starts hollering. And I’m so close to the end anyway, right? I can see how it all goes from here. So surely I could just take it as written that I finish it off and, like, stop now and fix all this hideous mess.

Except it’s not written. It’s not finished. And I know from experience that there are still plenty of twists in the final quarter that can change everything. And there’s little more frustrating than spending another month fixing everything so it’s perfect up to this point, only to find that when I progress into that final quarter, there’s something I couldn’t have realised would mess up everything that I’ve just fixed.

There’s nothing for it but to haul on the metaphorical gum boots, wade through the mess, and sticky-tape things together into an ending.

(“Then you can fix it,” I whisper to my inner editor, as she cries in a corner. “Then you can fix it all.”)

 

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