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The Mud of My Mind OR “Shitty First Drafts”

August 31, 2009

I can feel it starting as an anxious buzz, deep in my chest.

I stare at the screen, typing out a few words, here and there, and I feel stuck, mired in the mud of my own mind that works faster that I can keep up with. I lose dozens of sentences every day because I just cannot possibly be around a notebook enough. And of course, now, when I have two notebooks bumping against my elbow, the words are staunchly staying where they are: firmly lodged in my psyche with no intention of moving past my subconscious.

I am afflicted with a common writer’s affliction, or what Anne Lamott calls one of the two most important principles of writing. It’s called “shitty first drafts.” (I’m just quoting honestly, sorry Grandma.)

Hello, my name is Caroline, and my first drafts are shitty.

I am working on my first piece for my church, which is incredibly exciting and terrifying, as most essential writing is. Writing the inane, mindless stuff isn’t hard. It’s when I start writing about the stuff that matters, that buzzes throughout my fingers and toes, that fires me up until words start melting out…writing like that is where my shitty first drafts come from.

So I shall get back to my patchy paragraphs, with half-finished sentences and absolutely no transitions. I know you look woebegone and pitiful right now, shitty first draft, more pathetic than a one-legged cat hopping alongside a gutter. But you won’t always. I will write you legs and give you back that right eye. I will make that gutter lead to someplace beautiful.

I promise.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2009 11:28 pm

    not a big cat person but cant wait to read it! =)

  2. Grandma Carr permalink
    September 1, 2009 9:18 am

    Caroline….It may surprise you to know but the word “shitty” had exsisted long before you, I, or Anne first used it….yes! I well remember your Great Grandmother throwing it out in conversation, especially when she had had a miserable day at work. So now we have passed it to you. Use it sparingly but know that it is a family ‘necessity’ when things get ——! Love you, Grandma

  3. Caroline permalink*
    September 1, 2009 12:00 pm

    @ Katie!

    Haha, the cat was just a metaphor. It actually has nothing to do with cats. 🙂

    @ Grandma!

    Hahahahahahahahahaha. I’m glad the spunky ladies in our family have a long history of being a little saucy when the occasion called for it. 🙂 Go us!

  4. September 2, 2009 1:43 pm

    hah! You and your Grandma are awesome!

    I puttered across your blog through the random rabbit trails of the web…the “crickets, crickets, crickets” comment on the SCL site caught my eye. I really enjoy what you have to say and how you say it!

  5. Caroline permalink*
    September 2, 2009 9:33 pm

    @ Laura!

    Well, hello new friend! 🙂 That’s funny you found my blog via SCL, a lot of people seem to find me that way. I’m so glad you can relate to what I write in here — it’s nice to know you’re not alone, you know?

    I will make sure to check out your blog as well!
    Thanks for reading!

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