I'm currently in the agonies of a first draft for a new novel. Meanwhile, my dear critique partner Linda is going throw edits.
Who has the worse job?
Some say that the first draft of a novel is the hardest thing to write. Getting to the words, "The End" is painful, they say, and you just have to vomit it out and then focus on rewrites.
Now that I've been through the editing process from start to finish, I'm going to go ahead and disagree with that theory. The first draft is the one time you get complete creative control over everything. Nothing is wrong, everything is fantastic. The characters are fresh, unpredictable, and new. Bonus, word counts don't matter. Biggest bonus, neither do spelling, grammar, speech tags or logic. In short, the first draft is a blissful chocolate birthday cake before the candle wax drips on it, or people cut into it, or anyone digests one bite of it.
The second draft, the one we sort of tentatively send to our critique partners chapter by chapter (and I'm going to apologize now to my critique partner Linda, who has suffered through too many "first draft" chapters lately.) that become painful. The second, third, fourth drafts all have to make sense. The characters have to act in a logical manner. (Unlike real life where stuff happens, regardless of logic.) Word counts and chapter structure are vital.
Worse yet, any change you make has to be made all the way through the whole manuscript.
Oh that's the worst. Make the tiniest little change on page 290 in a second draft...you better make sure it doesn't affect anything in pages 1-289. Sort of like when Homer Simpson's toaster acted as a time machine and, while back in time, he stepped on a bug, which removed the concept of donuts in his present day. (Someone used a knitting analogy on me for this, but I don't knit...I watch TV.) Every little thing you change in a second or third draft is not only going to affect something forward in the manuscript, it's going to affect things backwards, too.
"Lies In Chance" is my shining example of editing gone haywire. First of all, I've edited beyond words on this thing, and the versions of this novel are endless and varied. I think, think, think I'm at the end of it, though once I sell it, I know revisions will be aplenty. But I know these characters better than I know my own children (some days I like them better, too.) but even then, I've made some changes forwards that didn't get made backwards. The results are hilarious. (All I can say is, if you have a character that's living under an assumed name, and you change that assumed name, change it all the way through the manuscript!) Sort of.
As writers, it's true, you can't get bogged down in making your first draft perfect. Just write it. Then take the whole manuscript, and start editing. And editing. And revising. It's a long process, writing a book. It's not a flash of creative brilliance. If you want that, paint something. (And now I can hear my mom and her painter friends howling at me. LOL!) Writing a novel is more like a triathlon. The swimming is just the start. Then you've got that super long bike ride and a grueling, almost impossible run.
But it's not impossible, my friends. You can finish that novel. You can revise that novel. You can sell that novel!
It takes time and it takes energy. Now go forth and WRITE!