Has anyone ever pulled out an old story they never followed through on? I pulled out a first draft from thirteen years ago while I was packing for my move last night. I looked at it and cringed as I read through. The idea was great… the execution… well it almost deserved an execution. Guillotine to be precise.
I was so proud of that first draft initially. I mean I did it! I had finished a book! It was in no way perfect, and it was a great reminder that I can do this. However, it was instinct to grab the red pen of death and start executing this thing at the neck.
(I have another original copy. I did not destroy the only first full work that I have.)
Every page was a WTF moment. I stared, and I judged myself. Harshly. Lets be real. An author’s harshest critic isn’t an editor or agent. It is them and the red pen of dissection they hold. I got about a quarter through and was so thankful for my schooling and how far I have grown because of it.
So, I hit the halfway point and set it down. Eyebrow raised, laughter stuck in the back of my throat, and mind trying to comprehend what just happened I debated setting it on fire for no one to ever read again, but that might have ben a tad excessive.
Before I sent out the kill order on this piece, I set it on the shelf with other old pieces and I started flipping through those. Even the pieces from over a year ago I still found one small thing here or there that I really am glad for my growth. I decided that I would leave them all as they are as a reminder. (Except for that one. I am finishing those edits and seeing what I can salvage or use.)
I needed to remind myself why there are completed first drafts in my collection. I needed that reminder.
I also clearly needed some WTF moments in my life because wow.
First drafts are meant to be crap. They show you what the worst outcome is, and you can only fix it and make it grow into a spectacular piece of yourself from there. If you need to look back at some old pieces and first drafts as a reminder of why you are doing this or on this journey, like I am, then do it! It is okay to ask yourself, “What is this crap?”