Some novelists love crafting first drafts (The wonderful Joshilyn Jackson once called it “knitting bones from air”). Others can’t wait to get through the excruciating process. Some novelists love rewriting, while others think it’s the dullest part of the process. So writers: Where do you stand? And why?
As a practical matter, slipping from editing my second novel to writing the first draft of my third novel actually works pretty well.
I had been away from the third book for almost a month, and when I went back, what I found were pages of fat. Stuff I sort of liked, dialogue that had a nice flow to it, but which I could erase without hurting the story.
If I write first-draft material on a Monday and look at it on Tuesday, I’m often too close to see the problems. If I write first-draft material in November and get back to it in January, I have fresh eyes. I can see fat for fat. I can edit ruthlessly.
Novelist Joshilyn Jackson (creator of the Best Lead Paragraphs … Ever!) called the writing of first drafts “knitting bones from air.” She’s right. But sometimes, the bones we knit are un-opposable thumbs. You need time and space to realize: You gotta unknit that shit.