Second Draft, First Draft


Blackbird Dance (desire)'detail
Blackbird Dance (desire) – detail

I am thinking about the second draft of my book.  The one I put aside last September.

I am coming back to it.  I’ve made a pact with my friend who is also writing.  She’s close to the end of her first draft.  We both need someone to write with, partner, give us each that extra push to reach the finishing line by the end of the summer.  Tell us in a sure voice, yes, you are doing it, almost there.

Chocolate and iced mochas, cafes and beaches will help as well.  Bribery works.

I wonder, as I look at my half-done second draft, why I wrote the first draft.  What sent me to the page?  Who was I writing for when I sat all those days at my studio work table, moving words and pen across the paper?

I can give the usual answers.  I was writing for me.  Writing to understand what I experienced.  Writing to make sense of the path I walked.

These are all true.  Not specific enough, for me, right now.

What was it that sent me to the page with enough words to fill a whole book?

Here I have to pause.  Feel back to where I was when I began the writing.  Not think.  Feel.

Like all I create, it was the push of an idea.  You might say ideas are thoughts, and thoughts are not physical.  This may be true for you.  Not for me.

My ideas and thoughts carry weight.  I feel them in my body.  No two feel exactly the same.  This idea to put words to my experience was heavy and insistent.  It sat in my belly, all of my belly.  It was very sure of itself and its importance.  It would not leave.  The only choice was to birth it.  Sit at my work table and write.  Day and day and day.  Let the idea flow as words from belly through heart to hand to ink and paper.

The insistence and sureness and sheer weight of idea into words is what carried me through to the end of the first draft.  This, and joy.  Joy runs as a thread through all my creating.

These things sent me to the page.

I tell you what I know for sure.  Without that weight in my body where the idea sat, the writing would not have happened.  That weight was the connection between the idea and me.  That weight told me the idea was real, here and whole already, even though I had yet to write a word.

Now that the first draft is done, and the second draft half-done, paused and returned to, is the idea and its weight still here in my body?

It is.  I feel it now, sure and insistent and whole, waiting for me.  I am not going anywhere, it tells me, until we are done.

This feeling is a gift of knowing.  It has carried me, and continues to carry me, as I write.  This knowing is all I need to know.  This book will be.

Insistent.  Sure.  Whole.  And the thread of joy.

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