Pearls of Wisdom

<A middle school teacher asked me to come up with something that would let her students know that a first draft is not a final draft.>

Writing is easy, right?  Wrong.

To prove my point think of the bestseller ‘The Fault In Our Stars’, it should be easy to write a teenage love story that connects with people of all ages, right?  Wrong.
John Green spent four hours every day writing, it took him three years to ‘complete’ it until he sent it into his publishing house.  Once they got a hold of it John Green spent another four years re-writing and approving edits before the tome was put on bookshelves and became an international sensation.
I began writing my first published short story ‘Blood On The Potomac’ when I was 28 (and that’s about how old you should be before you read it).  I spent at least an hour each day for two months writing, before I showed it to other writers, then I spent another month re-writing.  And it’s only seven pages long.  It wasn’t published until I was 29, because my editor had to review all the stories in the collection.

I must be a terrible writer, right?  Wrong.

I understand that my first draft is purely a stream of consciousness that no other human should read, because it’s not good enough, and I can do better.  I re-work every sentence before I show it to my writing buddies, they give me feedback, and I use a machete to cut out about half so I can start over.

But, only writers would spend so long on one manuscript, right?  Wrong.

Think of your favorite musician.  Do you think they only practiced each song once before they recorded it?  Does your favorite sports team only run a play once before the big game?  Do the actors in your favorite movie only do the scene once before it’s put into the film?  Would you trust your doctor if they’d only stitched up one person before they start on you?

No, you wouldn’t.
They review their work again, and again, and again, until their sick of whatever it is.  Then they do it again.

I have a friend who’s been a professional stand up comedian for over 20 years.  Granted he is hilarious off the cuff, but when he’s on stage, he’s told those jokes at least a hundred times in a hundred different places.  I don’t need to ask him why he seems so at ease because I know that he practices every day to protect his craft.
Even this took me three hours to write.  I started by just typing everything I thought, then I read over it and re-wrote it.  I took a break to get some perspective then looked over it again, because I have pride in what I do.

And if you don’t take any pride in your writing then at least take pride in your education.  You can’t get anywhere in life without it, and the knowledge that you have is something no one can ever take away from you so, hold it dear.

-Melissa Algood  2014

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