Monday, June 15, 2009

Shitty First Draft of Garbage

Anne LaMott wrote in her infinitely wise and profound book Bird By Bird, that writers should write shitty first drafts. They should lay down all of their pent up anxiety about writing, throw caution to the wind, and just write. Shitty, boring, whiny, self-indulgent stuff that even the writer herself wouldn't want to read. She believes that's the only way to begin. Anne LaMott is one of those writers who makes me wince in her pain, blush at her embarrassment, cry out in her panic, and also grieve my own shortcomings amongst her sheer brilliance in writing. So, I guess if she says to write a shitty first draft and not to sweat it anymore - to just START already - then I should do it. I should face the screen with an open heart and get to work.

Henriette Anne Klauser postures in her book Writing On Both Sides of the Brain, that in order to avoid writing paralysis, we need to completely separate the process of writing from the process of editing. The two sides' goals oppose each other, she says. One side, the editor, strives for succinct perfection and poetic cadence and the other side (the writer) is just desperately trying to get stuff out without being judged. So she says to separate the two completely. First write garbage. Then, invite your editor side to come in for a peek, but remind her to please be kind in her analysis and corrections of the draft. Henriette says the editor will respond with a polite and dignified, completely non-judgemental editing of the writing because she has been purposefully invited into the scene. Editor side will apparently be Martha Fucking Stewart.

But here's the kicker with Anne and Henriette: they say no one's going to read that first draft anyway, so what the hell's the big fuss.

Enter blogging.

You read my garbage! My shitty first drafts! Anne and Henriette told me the key is not to worry about the reader, but I do. I do!

I know you're out there reading (all three of you) and I can't quite get past it into free writing territory. You've never said a nasty thing to me, you're actually a bundle of kindness and empathy, really, but I have this nagging fear that I'll bore the living hell out of you. I want to take good care of you, reader, and when I start feeling like I can't do that just right, then I just QUIT.

Which is what happened. I got all bogged down. Paralyzed. For like a month. Or was it even more?

But I'm trying to get over that. Right now I'm trying hard to follow Anne and Henriette's words of wisdom.

Because I like to write for writing's sake as well as for your sake.

Writing is cool in a wacky fun fucked up sort of way, and I actually really dig it. And I love to read the stuff that's imperfect in its funny or sad or confused or tormented way, so why should my stuff be any different, really? I like to write.

Even if you don't like it, I guess.

But I still hope you do.

So here it is. I give you my shitty first draft and my garbage.
Come on in. Nice to see you!

Do you all get this way too?


Jen W said...

We're here... reading and listening!!!

Dana's Brain said...

Yay! I will happily read your shitty first, second and third drafts. Plus, I actually don't think you will right anything shitty. You got the goods, just let them out!

cIII said...

It's like You're in my Head.

Only, you say it better.

Zip n Tizzy said...

Oh Lady... if this is your garbage!!!
I've been wondering where you've been. We've all been there.
I love your writing, will take it any way you dish it, and just hope you keep coming back.
They say an hour a day. You've just got to keep doing it, and within that you'll find the gems. But, yeah. I think everyone feels this way. I've even read award winning authors comments about wondering why anyone would ever want to read their work. I suppose it's part of the process.

Pop and Ice said...

I have definitely felt that way at times, but I finally just push forward and at least put something out there so everyone doesn't think I've quit or died or worse, lingering......

Sue said...

If you think that is shitty writing, then I am happy to read it! Keep it comin'. How is Abbott? That is my daughter's middle name! :)

Kirsten said...

You've completely echoed how I've been feeling for the past few months. I get caught up in comparing myself to other bloggers/writers and loosing motivation.

Keep writing, garbage or not, I'll still read.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I love your shitty first drafts. And I really relate to this. I started blogging so that I would have an outlet for writing - but now I'm so caught up in the blogging community that I don't have that much time for writing anymore... And I really do think about the people reading and sometimes feel insecure.

Kari said...

I TOTALLY get this.

Sometimes it keeps me from writing anything, and sometimes I feel like it's actually the beauty of blogging. There is usually at least one person who gets/likes/appreciates your garbage!

So, bring it on!

Carolyn...Online said...

I've wondered sometimes how to express that. But you just did.

With blogging you can't think, you just do. Then if you cringe at what you just wrote you do it again tomorrow and that other stuff just scrolls down a bit.

Don't think. Do.

maggie, dammit said...

Yes. Yes, I do! Yes.

Glad you're back.

anymommy said...

Uh huh. But, I come here to read every time you post. I love reading your first drafts, so keep them coming.