I am making my amends today to all those people (friends, family, agents, editors) who read my early manuscripts. My Very First Drafts I call them now. And so many people WERE kind enough to read them. Wow. And many of them returned useful thoughts and reactions which is even nicer. And the people I never heard from again – I know why now.
I’m just finishing the first draft of a middle grade novel I started last August, and I’ll be putting it away for a few weeks now to ‘age’. Then I will take it out and start in on a second draft. This is a process I didn’t utilize when I was younger.
I’ve written 4 (what I would call) middle grade novels now, this latest is my 5th. The first time I finished a novel I was so excited – well, we all know what happens. I sent it off WAY too soon to waaaaay too many people. It was a rookie mistake. I make lots of rookie mistakes – even though I am not a rookie. Should be on my gravestone – ‘Lived a Rookie. Died A Rookie.’
Since that first time I have never had a novel come out of a second draft in good enough shape to send to anyone. I’m hoping my newest might. The other night I took that first novel I finished, from 12 years ago, out and read it. Man…I’m so sorry for those who made their way through it or tried and couldn’t. I can’t get you your time back. Sorry!
But I do admire the enthusiasm I had with it. That should not be discounted by all those who get that Very First Draft from someone or for those who are taking their first writing steps. I don’t muster that kind of enthusiasm with my first drafts these days and often not with my second or third drafts either.
I’ve been working on a picture book manuscript for 3 years now. (And don’t we all know people who are sure picture books are easy to write because they have so few words!?) I’ve ripped it apart and put it together too many times to count and I’m starting to think there is some organic flaw in it because it is still suffering fatal issues.
Thanks to all the people out there that do take time to read a Very First Draft from a Very Young Writer. And another belated thanks to the ones who have read mine.