writing terms: 1st and 2nd

Disclaimer: these are the somewhat uncouth terms.  I love that word: uncouth.  You don’t hear it much anymore.  Oh, and they may not be can’t possibly be the only uncouth ones.

shitty first draft

I first read this term in Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, a wonderful book on craft and the writing life.  To me this means: get your butt in the chair and write down the words. Don’t stop to make it perfect, because it won’t be, and if you stop, you’ll totally lose your train of thought and all threads of connection you have to your characters and plot.

Also, if you give yourself permission to write the “shitty first draft,” then you have freedom to write and explore the story as it might  be.  You can always change it later.  And you will.  But only if it is written down on paper (or screen) first.  Shitty first draft = permission to be bad.

slutty second manuscript

I knew exactly what Holly meant when she said this to me.  She had asked how my writing was going, and I told her about visiting the grim and shadowy places my novel is taking me, and how hard that is to do sometimes.  Holly hangs out on the edge in her books, so I knew she’d understand.

(I like how Jay Asher says “edgy” simply means that “someone’s gonna disagree with what you have to say.”)

Then I told her that I had this other idea knocking around in my head, a story that really wants to be told, characters forming themselves in the ether of my mind.  I’m excited about the ideas and it seems writing this would be easier on my psyche, mostly because it is NOT so dark and edgy.

Holly nodded, laughed, and called it the slutty second manuscript, and I knew.  It is a good story, and I will write it next, using the notes I make as the ideas come to me know.  But I see it for what it is: a bad boy over in the corner, giving me the wink and sly grin, with his shirt unbuttoned a little and his thumb hooked into his jeans.  He’s just trying to distract me with how easy he is.  Or might be.

But it’s not going to work.  I’m sticking with this story until it’s done.  So there, bad boy.

But you’re next.


listening to: The Academy Is…, The Test


Leave a Reply