Once through, cleanly

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve started working on a memoir. I don’t know if anything will come from it and I’m trying not to think about that right now.

The first draft was as effortless as writing can be and it took little effort to get over 32,000 words down. It was almost scary how it poured out; I’ve never written so much in my life. I don’t need to tell you that draft is shitty (as it should be). I’m proud of myself for writing that much but there’s about two good sentences, a few that have potential, and a lot of really bad ones. Some of it is straight up stream of consciousness, trying to figure out the important parts of what happened or how to introduce a character.

Still, the volume of words, and thinking I can see the shape of this story, is a good place to start from. I haven’t worked on the memoir much over the past month. Mostly because we were (are?) in the middle of a move, and I needed to get boxes packed, not write about things that happened 15 years ago. Sometimes real life trumps an artistic life, unfortunately.

Things have settled a bit over the last week and I was going a little bit crazy not taking any time to work on creative projects, so I blocked off some time to sit by myself at Starbucks last weekend. I wanted to work on the memoir but was also feeling a little bit stuck. I didn’t know of any specific holes in the first draft, but going in and putting bandaids on the really awful parts seemed overwhelming.

Then I remembered this post from Austin Kleon and simply decided to start over. I printed off what I had (the heft of it is very satisfying, I’m not going to lie) and opened a blank scrivener document. As a bonus, now I would no longer be annoyed that an old file name kept showing up on printed versions.

Happily, this has seemed to do the trick. I’m a little under 5,000 words into the second draft, so I have quite aways to go towards the 75,000 I’m shooting for, but this draft is already so much prettier than the first. It feels a lot less like an amorphous blob, which, I hope, will make it easier to wrangle once I get to the end again.

Once through, cleanly.