Your words do not suck.

     

    People throw rocks at shiny things.

    Read that again.

    Your words do not suck.

    The first draft of your novel–and that’s probably what you’re working on in November–is a very good thing. It may not be something an editor at a pro-level publication will buy. But that comes later.

    Here’s what that first draft is:

    It’s the doorway between you and your best work. 

    You see, your work needs to find you as much as you need to find it. And the first draft is how you find each other. And what excitement when you meet! You may never have met before, and yet the sensation will be like a reunion with the love of your life.

    Because your best work IS the love of your life.

    Here is what Ray Bradbury called his formula:

    What do you want more than anything else in the world? What do you love, or what do you hate?

    Find a character, like yourself, who will want something or not want something, with all his heart. Give him running orders. Shoot him off. Then follow as fast as you can go. The character, in his great love, or hate, will rush you through to the end of the story. The zest and gusto of his need, and there is zest in hate as well as in love, will fire the landscape and raise the temperature of your typewriter thirty degrees.

    The history of each story, then, should read almost like a weather report: Hot today, cool tomorrow. This afternoon, burn down the house. Tomorrow, pour cold critical water upon the simmering coals. Time enough to think and cut and rewrite tomorrow. But today—explode—fly apart—disintegrate! The other six or seven drafts are going to be pure torture. So why not enjoy the first draft, in the hope that your joy will seek and find others in the world who, reading your story, will catch fire, too?

    It’s when you dare to catch the fire that’s already within you, when it burns the pages, that’s when you’ve crossed the portal to your best work. Yes, there’s still a road ahead. But with your November draft, you’ve stepped onto that road. Until that first draft is written, you’re still shut in, and your best work shut out.

    Ray Bradbury also said this:

    For I believe that eventually quantity will make for quality. Quantity gives experience. From experience alone can quality come.

     

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