Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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It's All Fairly Obvious, Really.

The first draft is just words. Everything after is writing.

This whole five days a week thing is already causing me to write posts about writing, and it's only two days in. Fuck, I should stop. Well. I should. But I'll keep it up, simply because I have that cool line there, and I want to keep it, but if this isn't the beginning of the end, my slow disintegration into becoming an ultra boring blogger and writer, I don't know what other sign post will do it. Maybe the sky boiling, turning red like a kid finger painting without any friends.

Anyhow, I'm not sure if I heard the quote somewhere before, but I suspect I have, in one variation or another. It took me a couple of attempts to get it in a form I liked, but it's a simple enough idea. Self explanatory, really. Everything spat onto the page in first draft is words, not yet turned and fashioned into something interesting, into something that has become prose. Perhaps that's why Truman Capote wrote, infamously, about Jack Kerouac's On the Road, that it wasn't writing, but typing.

I wonder what pithy bit of sarcasm he'd toss at my work for the last two days?

Well, it's not writing, for sure. It's words that have been thrown down to find the spine of a chapter that is about race and love and sex and families, because all four go together. Mostly, I don't get much enjoyment from tossing those words out: they're ugly and unformed and without an ounce of pleasure to be contained within. The enjoyment comes from seeing the shape take form, which is something I pick and monitor internally based on what feels right or wrong. Right now, the end of the chapter feels wrong, but that's okay, as I can fix that. Of course, that doesn't mean that when other people read it that they'll think it's the right spine, that the length and pacing and climaxes are all in the right place, but if you spend your time worrying about what other people will think, you'll never move beyond a sentence, in my opinion.

Rewriting, however, is a much more pleasurable thing. Themes develop, characters flesh, alter, pacing gets fixed, little games with imagery begin, and the words are beaten into an arrangement that carries all this in a style that you fashioned your voice into.

A week later, all you see are the flaws, and you hate it. But that's the nature of the beast.

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