“Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop. You can’t–and, in fact, you’re not supposed to–know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it’s finished developing. First you just point at what has your attention and take the picture. “ Anne Lamont
Bestselling author, Anne Lamont, has been called the “People’s Writer.” She is best known for her autobiographical works and memoirs. Much of her work has focused on her own experiences of motherhood, illness, alcoholism, and religion. Her humorous, quirky approach to serious topics has made her popular with readers facing similar struggles. In Some Assembly Required (2013) she celebrates ups and downs of her first year with her grandchild Jax, her nineteen year old son’s baby.
For the struggling writer she has written Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1994). This is the book to pick up when writing is getting you down. The following excerpt is her take on revision.
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Star by getting something–anything–down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft–you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft–you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.
How healthy are your third drafts?
*And since it is Mother’s Day: Here is why she hates Mother’s Day.