Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beer Goggled Writing

Am I the only one who seems to have beer goggles on when looking at my first draft of something I've written?

I'm always like, "Hey, baby, I just saw you from across the desk and thought you looked really prosed and everything.  Do you indent here often?"

Then, after a month apart, I go back and pull up what looked so hot after first typing it out.

Where did that sweat piece of art go?

I blame my parents (and all parents in general that encourage and boost their kids' confidence).  Did you ever take some unidentifiable piece of mauled construction paper teepee looking thing to your mom and get this reaction?

"Oh, Shawn, (your mom probably addressed you by your name, not mine), this is amazing.  Did you do this all by yourself?  I've never seen anything so wonderful.  This ... thing ... has me reevaluating the post-modern aesthetic.  You clearly don't need to go to college with such a lucrative art career in front of you, but could you go anyway?  Just to humor me?"

My young impressionable mind was warped by many similar encounters just like this.  And I was eighteen when this one happened.

So, in my humble opinion (which ain't too humble at times, thanks again, mom) over supportive parents have blinded me to my own falliblility.  Only the passage of time can remove the fog of self-congratulatory impulse my post-adolescent ego spreads like a shiny lacquer over everything I produce.  (This is really turning out to be a nice post, isn't it?  I wonder if anyone else has ever done a post this nice ... wait, stop that!)

But before as writers we dare to peel the steamed up gogg's away from our red-rimmed peepers, could there be a useful purpose to this phenomenon?  What if we could actually see our first drafts initially the way we see them after a bit of time and perspective.  You know how you feel when you come back to a chapter, read what was your favorite line when you first wrote it and immediately turn over all the mirrors in your house in shame?  How could we ever get a first draft out experiencing that disgust at ourselves so early in the process?  Who would keep writing?  They say writing is rewriting (they being Stephen King, I believe.  He says most of the smart things about writing.)  And that's so true.  That's where the real work starts, where you focus the story, flesh out the characters, tie together the plot, finally come up with the wonderful twist that was stubbornly a straight line to the finish in your first draft.

But the first draft is where you get to be the kid that loved to create something.  You can't create something from nothing without crapping it up initially.  Just look at the platypus.  Even God throws some stuff against the wall to see what sticks.  And that's good.  It's necessary, and it's how you find the pony in that initial pile.  And if you're lucky enough to have people in your life who have built you up and handed you a nice, thick-lensed pair of beer goggles, you'll get through the crap and be sitting pretty on that pony before you know it.




  1. Do you ever go back and read something and think 'Holy crap, I wrote this?' Cus it looks like something someone else wrote because it's just that damn good, but it obviously still has room for tweaks? I find this happening to me a lot when rereading something I wrote and haven't looked over in ages.

    Also, my usual first reaction to lines I liked is still "Man this line is freaking awesome. I wrote that?"

  2. Heh. I haven't tried writing anything in a long time. If I could get some of those old pieces, I have no idea what my reaction will be.

    Your blog is now on my Google home page. I'll try to keep up.