Wednesday, 29 May 2013

About not very much

Today I was going to write about introversion. Then I was going to do expectations and disappointment and how to deal with the two. Then I thought I would have a bash at friendship. For a moment, I was tempted by a little disquisition on the prison system. I know you would have loved that.

In the end, after doing all my various work, writing 969 words of book, taking my HorseBack pictures, seeing to my own herd, making soup, and performing the necessary domestic tasks to keep my daily life on track, there was not one thing left in my poor brain.

There was one thing of which I was reminded today, which might be of use or interest. I sometimes run writing workshops, and one of the first things I say to my students is: give yourself permission to do a really crappy first draft.

There are so many things which I know in my head and forget to apply to actual life. It’s why I revisit subjects here, over and over, to remind myself. This is one of them. As I was wrangling with the first draft today, I realised I had forgotten my own brilliant rule. (I say brilliant not in flashy arrogance, because I did not invent that rule. Every good writer has said it, one way or another, but I got it directly from the wonderful Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird. Although I suspect she did not use the word ‘crappy’. That one is mine.)

Once I remembered the rule, I cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war. No longer would I have to sit hunched and frowning, agonising over each word. I could just type type type, letting the thing be as baggy and formless and inconsequential and messy as it need be. The art of writing is often the art of rewriting. I have the glorious second draft, when I can go back and bash it into shape. For now, I may just let it go, and that makes my job a great deal easier.

I suspect that quite a lot of writers are perfectionists. Perfection is the enemy of the good, and nowhere more than in the first draft. You get hobbled and cabined and confined; the words flow not in joyous torrents but in mean trickles. Giving myself permission to be absolutely rubbish is my own tiny gift of the day.


Hardly any pictures today. It was too wet and gloomy to take the camera out. Just a quick quartet of herd, blossom, Stan the Man with Stick, and Best Beloved:

29 May 1 26-05-2013 16-20-45

29 May 2 24-05-2013 11-31-45

29 May 3 24-05-2013 15-01-02

29 May 4 24-05-2013 15-02-20

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