Saturday, February 5, 2011

Writing Is Like (v. 1)

Writing a first draft is like sketching something in pencil. Every sentence is tentative, a light feathery mark on the page. You go over the good lines, making them darker. The rest of the page is a blank. Suddenly, an idea opens in your head, and in the big white space you hastily sketch an almost-complete picture. You are pleased. You get up to get coffee. You come back and look at your draft. You are not pleased. You erase most of it. Then you erase the rest of it. Start again. Scratch, scratch. The shadows of earlier drafts are still there, faint crossings and shadings under the new. Now, no matter how much you erase, the page will never be completely blank again. Unless you throw out the page altogether. (But frankly? The crumpled page on the floor is a movie convention, like paper grocery bags.) 

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