on writing the first draft of anything

We write to relieve, elevate, solidify, illuminate, escape. We write so that sometimes we don't have to live, because living is hard and soul-crushing. We write for the sake of trying to get at a core that might or might not exist. We write to gain love or to express love. We write sometimes for money. We write when we can't think, when everything else - the suicide jump, the disappearing into an unknown island - fails.

Yet there are times when we don't write because the mind is like a trainwreck. The tracks have gone out of place and in one single second (or maybe less) the train is hauled from its course of travel and spins wildly out of control. It falls out of its axis, just as we do, falling out of our axes, dropping things, failing, losing.

I have to try to explain my psyche, but in trying to do this I find myself grappling with my 'self' - the being, the core, or whatever name we give it. That thing that I don't often dare to confront, afraid that it might kill me if I really knew what kind of a person I really am.

For a few weeks i couldn't write. I kept thinking about the idea of 'writing', and then I kept thinking about the idea of everything. I felt like I needed to talk to professors or experts in their fields so I could be enlightened. I took to books. I took to hypertensive thinking. So for weeks the words could not and would not come.

I guess one of the reasons I could not get down to writing even a single word was because I was so damn afraid of doing it badly. Writing is so difficult and yet so... I really don't have a word for it. It's an activity that so approaches death that I'm not sure why people become writers. It's hell, or a window into hell. But it's many things, because it's also heaven.

Writing is difficult because we cannot be perfect, and by default we aren't. As humans we are afraid of projecting our imperfections and failures in our writing, our prose, but I have learned that there is no such thing as 'perfect'. Good writing is an imperfect first draft, maybe 30 - 100 revisions, many cups of coffee and many more sleepless nights. It is in all these 'post'-moments that we create something that is 'good'.

I have to tell myself not to be afraid to turn out a horrible first draft. That's what that has been holding me back from writing.


May 15, 2011 at 10:42 PM iwishihadtaste said...

I just wanted you to know that I'm translating this into Spanish and reading it to my students at my Creative Writing class next week. It's beautiful, realistic and heartbreaking at the same time. Thanks for sharing these words.

May 15, 2011 at 10:47 PM alicereneztay said...

i love reading your blog.

May 16, 2011 at 5:11 AM Annika said...

Thank you for this, it's beautiful. I love coming to read your blog. I don't know how to describe it but it gives me a very peaceful, good feeling. Your words are genuine and inspiring. How amazing to find something like this.

May 24, 2011 at 4:35 PM Wax said...

thank you, this was a good read.

you are a good writer, as proven in this blog, so whatever it is that you are writing i'm pretty sure it would turn out magnificent.