September 14, 2006

"How ill I have written..."

"How ill I have written. I begin to hate myself." -- JA

Jane wrote this at the close of a letter to her sister, Cassandra, on September 18, 1796 (letter number 7 in Deirdre Le Faye's collection for anyone who wants to look it up). She is only referring to the letter, either to her writing style or her handwriting, but I echo these sentiments.

One of the things I have always loved about writing is what Anne Lamott calls the shitty first draft. I don't particularly love the SFD, or the necessity of writing one, but I love that it is completely and entirely my own and that no one else knows how poorly I have written because I keep everything to myself until it is cleaned up and presentable.

Then came the blog, and now there are all of these little pieces of writing out there, all of these pieces of my draft, some of which rightly belong in the SFD and will never see the light of day. Except that they're there for you to read. I have been panicking about this (particularly some of the posts from Hampshire, but I don't want to tell you which ones for fear that you will run off and read them). I have been wanting to keep everything to myself lately.

Last week I ran into another problem. I have just begun the process of serious editing--serious, okay-let's-make-this-publishable editing. I discovered that the entire thing was crap. (The beginning, at least. The middle has some potential.) I begin to hate myself.

Every writer goes through this, I tell myself. The publishers liked it. You liked it. I even liked it for a while. If nothing else, I try to remember, much more ridiculous things have been published, so in the end, it will probably be okay.

Today was a difficult day and I was only able to edit for about 20 minutes. It was enough to make me think that maybe it isn't entirely hopeless. And there are some things I would really like you to read.


Blogger Heather B said...

Oh, dear, I'm commenting yet again! Usually, I'm such a lurker, but you hit on a topic that really hit home. I write, too (I'm not published yet), and always love, love, love my first draft. Then, afterwards, I want to tear it to pieces and throw it into the garbage! So, I totally understand your feelings. I guess the best we can do is stick with it and keep reminding ourselves that this is a story we want to tell!

Off of soapbox.


9/14/2006 11:23:00 PM  
Blogger Margaret Feinberg said...

You can do can do it.

9/15/2006 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Well, if these are your SFD's, we'll look forward to hearing about the Pulitzer committee calling once it's all 'cleaned up.' :)

9/18/2006 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Shelly said...

I totally agree with Kristine. Lori, if you want to feel better about your writing, read Darcy's Story which came out recently. What a disappointment! What terrible writing! I should have learned by now that no one can come remotely close to imitating Jane Austen. In fact, I think all "continuing stories" or "inspired by" novels should be outlawed. That's what's so great about your book - you're simply enjoying Jane Austen and not trying to be her.

9/28/2006 10:52:00 AM  

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