first drafts are first drafts

It’s been a big week.  Two major things happened:

1. I went to a dinner party in Malibu.  And I’m talking the Malibu you expect based on the images in your head that have been placed there via television.  We were right on the ocean, the second floor balcony even hung over it!  The roar of the waves was so loud it was almost scary (who am I kidding, it was scary…).  The company was a crew of sex positive folks who refer to themselves as “Sex Geeks.”  There was a formal round of introductions at the dinner table before passing around kale salad, carrot miso soup with sesame, root vegetables galore, sangria…  It was so quintessential (what I had made up in my mind was) LA I am nearly convinced that I can move out of the city now.  I’m done.  Oh!  And we took home new sex toys as souvenirs.  Good times.

2. I started writing the book.  *gulp*

Yeah, “the book.”

“The book” (for reference) is a memoir of the year of my life when I wrote the blog at  It answers the question: can I transform my life?  with YES (I hope).

I know I said I started it several months ago (and I did).  I had a moment where I wanted to start writing so I sat down and spewed out a bunch of stuff in an evening and never went back to it.  This time, because I’m trying to get 2-4 sample chapters and a full book proposal written by March 14th (to submit it to a contest, only 10 more days…), I spewed on Monday, edited and spewed on Tuesday, and edited again on Wednesday.

In the end, I had written 8,887 words in 3 days.  I had a first draft of my first chapter.  I knew it was probably too long (most of my work is), but this google search helped me feel better about myself…

yahoo questions search results

how many words in an average chapter? how dare you even ask! there are no average word counts in making art!

I sent the draft off to the ladies in my creative workgroup and printed the 22 page packets as the long submission for my nonfiction writing class.  Then I walked around feeling quite happy with myself.

I got great feedback on Saturday in the creative workgroup meeting.  The women there are brilliant, experienced, and have discriminating taste… it’s a group I’m proud of belonging to.  They were honest.  They helped me see where I needed to go next.

Turns out, a first draft isn’t anything more than that.  The fantasy I have in my head that it will take only three days to write the ready for print version of a chapter in a memoir isn’t one that became reality.  What I wrote in those 8,887 words is what happened when my marriage ended for the final time… and that’s pretty much it.  Just “what happened.”  Not how I felt about it, or where I struggled, or why it’s an interesting starting moment to the journey that was the following year of my life.

I was grateful for the feedback, and eager to start writing again until I started to feel embarrassed.  Maybe I wrote what I wrote because that’s what I want to put out into the world.  Maybe I want people to know the version of the story where my ex made poor choices and I was all enlightened and compassionate and composed.  Maybe I want to be the shining star…  (and maybe that would make for a shitty book so maybe I don’t want to write a book at all anymore)

So, now I have 10 days to write 2-4 sample chapters and a full length book proposal AND decide that this book is only worth writing if I’m willing to let myself be seen on the pages.  The latter is the part that takes more time.

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