Steph & Isla, Week One

Hoo boy. It's astonishing how quickly my mind can go from this:

Tra la la! Emperor of Mondays! Fresh start! New book! WheeeEeeEeeeEEEeee! DIS IS THMOST AWESOME WEEK EV-AR!!!

To this:

Wait. I actually have to write another book? Now? Like, right now?

Most writers can be divided into two camps: those who enjoy first drafts and those who enjoy revising. I am firmly on the revision side. For me, first drafts are sloppy and embarrassing and filled with holes and stupidity. And that's okay! They're supposed to be that way! But my perfectionist mind despises cutting a path through the muck. Everything is so messy and unclear. It's humiliating for me to know these early drafts even exist; it feels like I'm stumbling through a crowded public square in my underpants and one flip-flop.

But . . . it's not all bad. This week, I've taken great pleasure in organizing my notes. Removing Lola's inspiration pictures and hanging up Isla's. Reading research books. Brainstorming ideas with friends. Creating new goals and deadlines.

You'll notice that none of those activities actually involve writing.

I envy those authors who blast through first drafts — GOOD first drafts! — in a matter of weeks. Mine take months, by far the longest stage of my writing process. My most frequently used metaphor is that a first draft feels like having to yank out my own teeth. It is slow, and it is excruciating.

It is also filled with an excess in melodrama and procrastination.

Examples of early melodrama:

• Whiny emails to my critique partners
• Whiny texts to my critique partners
• Whiny phone calls to my critique partners

Examples of melodrama-to-come:

• Panicked emails to my critique partners
• Panicked texts to my critique partners
• Panicked phone calls to my critique partners

Examples of early procrastination:

• Ooo! Thom Yorke oil painting!

• Ooo! Thom Yorke paper doll!

• Ooo! Thom Yorke dancing with a bear!

NOTE: All three of these were sent via my friend Connie, who is my favorite source of procrastinatory goodness. You rock, Connie! Thank you! Also, you should check out this amazing present she made for another friend. Clearly, everyone should strive to be Connie's friend.

FOLLOW-UP NOTE: This picture makes me so happy. Two fabulous ladies in one!

Kiersten and Connie

(Moving back on topic . . .)

Examples of procrastination-to-come:

• Taking up a new hobby, such as turning Thom Yorke into art
• Staring at my office wall and pretending that my laptop does not exist
• Eating just one more snack and drinking just one more cup of coffee

And now I should end this post and tie it up in a bow, but all I can think about is that if I stop typing, I will have to Get To Work. And I'm not so fond of Getting To Work.

So I think I'll stay here a bit longer.


*twiddles thumbs*

*gazes out window*

*scratches side of nose*

*drums on desk*

*jiggles foot*

Okay, maybe I'll go for just one more snack, instead. Would you like to join me for coffee afterward? We can play with our paper dolls!


  1. Anonymous2:43 PM GMT-5

    Lol, I love procrastination, and I love that word "procrastination" I don't think we have a word like this in Spanish, I think it would be loosely translated into: Perder el tiempo haciendo cosas menos importantes que la cosa que en realidad debe ser hecha (Meaning: Wasting time doing less important things than the thing we are supposed to be doing)... See, there's no poetry and that nice sound that comes with "procrastination". But enough is enough... but WHEN is it enough? Love your posts!

  2. Steph, this literally made me laugh out loud. I have a small idea of how difficult it is to do what you do, and I don't blame you at ALL for the procrastination! I do hope you're able to get it workin' though, and that if you don't, your future in Thom Yorke art is promising. :P

  3. Procrastination is SUCH a wonderful thing. And so dependable, too. Always there when you need it...

  4. Oh great now everyone is going to start sending me hate mail...Leave Stephanie alone she needs to write more books! ;)
    I am just happy to have someone to share my finds with it makes it double happiness!!

  5. GOOD LUCK! You can do it! I hate first drafts too (I'm in the middle of one) and I cannot WAIT to get to the revision stage.

  6. Anonymous3:27 PM GMT-5

    I am So excited about Josh's (Isla's) book. It's strange to be excited about a book that doesn't exist yet, though. Good luck, Steph!!

  7. I have used the first draft=pulling teeth metaphor so many times, I'm pretty sure any and all friends now internally roll their eyes whenever I'm writing one (though they're too kind to be anything but supportive to my face!)

    So I am definitely in your camp! Revisions rule! First drafts drool. Also, the internet is so shiny and pretty...

  8. I love you for this. First drafts terrify me. I never think I've really got another story in me, you know, one that will actually make it into a book.

    revision - yay!
    first drafts - overwhelming

  9. I'm starting a brand new first draft today. As soon as I clean the house up. And do some washing. And finishing reading the book I started last night. And then I have to reorganise my bookshelf. And then I'll have to watch the "Tiny Ball of Light" video at least nine more times.

    Hey, any chance you can find me a Ronald paper doll. That would be sweet.

  10. Good luck! You can totally do it.

    I'm so the opposite clearly because whenever I write anything in the first draft I can always just go "Eh, I'll fix that later" whereas as it gets to the *looks at current number on her WIP* 6th Draft I start to feel the pressure of getting it right and get all angsty about how it's never going to come together and I amd never going to nail this characterization and *hyperventilates into a bag*

  11. I'll bring along my paper dolls of Prince William and Kate! ;)

  12. Those Thom Yorke baubles are really funny!
    With such great procrastination tools, it would be tempting to play, play, play.
    But you'll get the draft done.
    Chin up.

  13. I'll meet you for coffee.. It will take a loooong time considering I'll have to fly from Sweden and then learn to like coffee.. so thats a few hours to skip work :p (even thoug I would love for your books to come out sooner!)

  14. Haha, Stephanie, this makes me feel so much better than I did a few min ago, when I was sending a whiny email to my crit partners about my first draft process. Thank you!

  15. I also laughed out loud when I was supposed to be working (at work) instead of reading your blog. Sigh.

  16. I am SUPPOSED to be making a PowerPoint presentation that's due tonight, but here I am procrastinating!

    @Emilia - We call it the "maƱana habit".

  17. I kind of love drafting. And revising. But not running around in public in underpants. I don't love that.

  18. Love this description: "it feels like I'm stumbling through a crowded public square in my underpants and one flip-flop."

    I'm a first drafter. Revising feels like trying to redo a knitting stitch from the sixth row of an intarsia pattern of a polar bear dancing with a pickle who's stumbling through a crowded public square in his underpants and one flip flop.

    Which is why I just end up throwing all my knitting into the washing machine and felting it—can't notice the mistakes that way.

    Unfortunately, you can't felt a story.