I told you last week that I’ve just finished a draft of Faustina. It’s not very good and I still have a lot of work to do on it. I knew it wouldn’t be very good, which is why I ditched this draft back in February, but I ended up going back to it because I thought it would feel awesome to finish a draft and that it would spur me on to make a quick, good job of the next one, secure in the knowledge that yes, I really can finish a draft!
So far, this has not been the case. In fact, you can summarise my feelings about completing something that took me over a year of the most sustained effort I’ve ever put into anything with the noise you get out of a nearly-empty ketchup bottle. TTHHHHHHHHHPPPBBTTTT.
A lot of people have said a lot of very sweet, comforting things to me about first drafts and the inherent crapness thereof. And that is very nice of them, but I don’t think of this as a first draft (although it is the first one I’ve finished so I suppose it’s fair to say that roughly the last third of it is a first draft). I’ve been working on this since April 2014. To me, what I’ve just finished feels like at least the third draft – and that’s discounting a lot of false starts that never got to more than a few thousand words and/or a lot of (clearly ineffective) planning.
And that makes me think “Damn, if this is the best I can do after all that time and effort… maybe this is the best I can do?” Which brings me to a weird ambivalence that I think (hope?) I’m not alone in having. On the one hand, I obviously think I’m quite good at writing or I wouldn’t be funnelling so much time and effort into it. On the other hand, I also think I’m the most appalling piece of trash ever to vomit purple prose onto a keyboard. That sounds over-dramatic (and it is!) but it’s basically the thought I just had while trying to write the opening paragraph of the new draft.
It’s a standards thing. If I painted something that was as good a painting as Faustina is a novel, I’d be pretty pleased with myself. I like painting, when I have an occasional go at it, but it’s not important to me – either that I do it at all or, crucially, that I’m good at it. I’m not trying to “be good at it”, in any meaningful sense. I’ll try to do a good painting and if I do then that’s nice and, if not, there’s always next time. Who cares? But, with writing, it’s completely different. There is no “good try” or “solid effort”. There’s only (unattainable) perfection or failure.
If this sounds miserable then… well, yeah, it kind of is at the moment. I don’t know why I feel this way: like writing is central to my identity and my worth as a person centres on how well it’s going, but I do and it sucks.
Believe it or not, there was going to be a point to this whining, but the point actually got so long that I’ve split it off into another post (coming soon!), so we’re left with this orphan whine that I don’t have time to replace with anything else. Sometimes this weekly blog challenge is a bit of a bind.
In other news:
I did a henna gloss on my hair and now the bath is yellow. But my hair is awesome.
My natural red has faded quite a lot and I wanted it back. I was actually hoping for how it looked when I was about ten but it’s ended up the way it was when I was about sixteen, which is close enough.