Wednesday, February 21, 2018

When first drafts attack

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got as a fledgling writer was the importance of understanding that first drafts are shit. They just are. The whole purpose of a first draft's existence is to just get your story down on paper. Then it can be fixed. It's not for public consumption because anyone who reads it (unless they're another writer who understands it's at a really raw stage) will think you're a crappy writer. Writing, as the saying goes, is rewriting.

Another thing that's been on my mind lately is to start submitting well before deadlines, instead of at 11:59:59 pm on the due date like I usually do.

Why do I mention these things? Well, because they've come together the past couple of days as I work on a short story for an upcoming anthology with a deadline of March 23, almost exactly one month away.

The story, which we'll refer to as Hollywoodland (because that's its name) was my submission last year to the Malice Domestic anthology Murder Most Geographical. It wasn't selected and now that I've dragged it out of mothballs to repurpose it for another anthology, I can see why.

It's awful.

Not the story, which I think is fine, but the fact that it reads like a first draft. No wonder it wasn't chosen. But it went out like that because I threw it together at the last second because inspiration didn't strike until the last minute. And also because I am a terrible procrastinator. Kidding, I'm unfortunately really good at it. Point is, because instead of giving myself time to do what turned out to be a much needed rewrite, I sent it out into the world in its sorry first draft state. I feel like I should apologize to the judges at Malice who had to waste their time on it. In fact, I will: Sorry, you guys. My bad. Won't happen again.

I got a lot of work done on it yesterday and a bit more today, and it's in much better shape. My next few days are going to be busy with family stuff, so I won't get to spend more time on it until Sunday. My goal is to have it whipped into shape and submitted by next Wednesday, the last day of the month. That will give me two submissions for the month, meeting that goal again. It also gives me some breathing room in March, because I don't have any other hard deadlines until April and May. I need a new TV spec to replace my Better Call Saul script that is now outdated, so that's probably next in line, as well as the next Sisters in Crime Los Angeles anthology, which is due May 15 and will need to be done well in advance so I don't repeat mistakes of the past.

Writing wise I feel like I'm in pretty good shape. Now if I could just get another acceptance, that would give me two years running. And would be fabulous.

Above image snicked from the internets. If it's yours, A) Great work! and B) Let me know so I can give you credit.

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