I caught up with an old newspaper buddy last night.
I hadn’t seen Gordon in more than seven years. Since our days as starving writers at the alternative weekly, Metro, our lives had gone in different directions. Gordon moved on to another urban weekly and then to the university setting, where he’s been a lecturer and media advisor the past 11 years; after Metro, I did two years at a daily before getting out of the business.
Last night we met up at Piqueo’s, a fantastic “high-end Peruvian restaurant,” as Gordon rightly calls it. Over plates of polito and pastelito de choclo and a pitcher of sangria, we dove into a passionate discussion of novel writing — specifically, how it’s almost impossible not to pour your heart and soul into a first draft, to write tens of thousands of words in a drunken literary lust, only to realize much later that they just don’t serve your novel.
It got me to thinking. Are these wrong turns, as painful and time-consuming as they are, nearly impossible to avoid? When it comes to a process as consuming and visibility-impairing as writing a novel, are these wrong turns truly something to bemoan? I’m starting to think they’re crucial parts of the process. Maybe, in order to get to something that works — to find our gems amidst our own muck — we must understand that we’re going to write crap along the way.
As luck would have it, all of this came to a head today when I shared the “first draft” of my latest reality-based video with my director here at Sun. She immediately identified one segment that did not serve my story and another that needed more development. I shook my head and told her I should have seen this earlier.
Her response? “No, this is part of the process.”
I think I agree.