I love the first draft. Love it. Love, love, love it.
By the third draft of a short piece, I’ve lost the story. Without fail. I’ve been building worlds and creating histories for characters and there are great swathes of eye-straining text that simply don’t need to be. I’m stymied. I don’t know what’s important anymore. I cannot see the story for the words.
So, I find myself with thirty excess pages. I start hacking away at them. Sometimes I murder my darlings with glee, sometimes with sadness, sometimes with anger at myself for getting carried away, for being undisciplined and unable to keep the characters in line.
I dislike the story for becoming complicated. I dislike myself for complicating the story.
Maybe I take a break from the story, plunging into another project, another first draft that is like a cute guy I meet in a bar and by golly I just know he doesn’t have the same issues as my ex which aren’t my issues, no, not at all…
And one morning, while opening a word document, I come across the first draft of the story (always, always, always save the first draft like some folks save the top tier of their wedding cake in the freezer) and I read that first sentence, then that first page… and I start to remember.
I remember why I fell in love with the story.
I remember where the characters were heading when we first met. And now, because I spent so much time researching their world, I know why.
I get to start at the beginning again.
I get to travel back in time, knowing what I know now, and make things right.
I feel like the Doctor.