Jarring: Starting a New Novel

Picture this.

You’ve been working on your novel for almost two years.  The first draft was so long ago that you laugh over your silly non-ending and lack of conflict with friends who have read the completed story.  For a year and a half, you’ve been refining, editing, polishing the story to a high gloss.  You’ve had the luxury of being picky and choosy over individual words and phrases.  You can decide to drop in an extra image here or there as if you’re scattering flower petals.  You know your characters so well that their reaction to things comes automatically, without reaching.

And then

you start all over with a new story, new first draft.  It’s rough and ugly and the characters are stereotypes.  You barely know how to start, and every paragraph you write, you want to go back and fix, make perfect.  But that’s not what a first draft is like, and you know it.  You can remember that years ago, the novel that you’ve just perfected also came out stilted and wrong, but it’s so far away and you’ve become so accustomed to polishing instead of drafting that it’s




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