I first came across this quote at the Southern Oregon Writer’s Conference when it was quoted by the keynote speaker, Peter Brown Hoffmeister. He was quoting Annie Lamott.
Basically, she said,
“I don’t need to write a perfect first draft. I just need to write a shitty first draft.”
That has been my summer. Everything but 1 piece has been a shitty first draft. Actually, some of them are on their 4th and the 5th shitty drafts. I could be discouraged but I keep remembering the keynote speaker’s admonition, keep writing. So I’m plugging away at it and hating a lot of what is going down on paper. I keep hoping something will spark.
There are some bits and pieces I like but nothing cohesive. Everything feels just clique and timeworn.
I make myself write even though nothing is sparking me. I have ideas. I have done research on cell towers and radio waves. (God help me, I don’t get that technology and don’t even get me to try and explain terminal gravity.) I’ve also researched faceting gemstones.
Along the way, I’ve been battling depression and feelings of being worthless. Most of what I’ve been writing has been to get through the pain, shame and humiliation of this last relationship. “A Little Death in Methow Valley” is my favourite of the summer. It’s grim, brutally honest and ugly, just like my last marriage. I am curious if anyone will publish it. It bleeds. (I am the ugliness you created in my brain.)
Then because I was tired of feeling so morbid in everything I was writing I tried my hand at a light hearted poem about 10-year-old girls playing softball. I was watching championship games and the girls were so vibrant in their joy of the game. Instead of the boys of summer, they were my girls of summer, which I immediately connected to “Girls in Their Summer Dresses” by Irwin Shaw. I flashed back to reading the short story in college. (Mrs. Cope or Troy Boucher?)
Then the “Night Whisperer” has been haunting me. I have at least 7 shitty drafts of that poem. I keep going back to it though. He keeps whispering to me across the airwaves. Even though my favourite line from it is,
“You are a lie I keep telling myself. Stop bleeding into my thoughts.”
One of my shitty first drafts was composed in the social security office while I was getting my name changed back to Holtz. It sounds like the lyrics to a bad bubble gum song. “Taking Back My Name.”
Here’s too shitty first drafts, Peter Brown Hoffmeister! I keep writing.