Today on BBC’s HoWM (House of Writing Metaphors) my series continues with self-editing, and why my bathtub needs a serious Find+Replace run on it for “soap scum” and “scrubbing bubbles.”
When I moved into my new HoWM I felt a little awkward using the bathroom. It wasn’t my house yet, and I felt like I was intruding on somebody else’s space when I took a bath. I got over it, but I still despise the downstairs bathroom for one very simple reason.
Also, one of the light fixtures in there is trying to kill me, but we’ll get to that later this week.
One trick about loving old farmhouses is that most of them had plaster walls originally, and when that plaster began to crumble, owners tossed up wood paneling. It paints up pretty nice, but I won’t waste paint on that bathroom.
I admit to not cleaning it often. Which truly, what am I thinking that will accomplish? Because dirty ugly is way better than clean ugly? Yet, I can’t bring myself to get down on hands and knees and scrub that tub because…
It’ll still be ugly.
So I shower in there, look at the rings on the sides and hate myself a little bit. Very productive.
The rough draft of an ms is like that – ugly. Sometimes we look at it and it doesn’t seem to belong to us. That’s why self-editing is critical, and like all important things in life, very difficult. It’s easy to read that first draft and declare that you hate it. It’s ugly. Give up on it.
Being ugly is exactly the job of a first draft. It’s a basic framework telling you what your story IS, down in the bare bones. My ugly bathroom is for bathing and I can do that in there just fine, but it’s not going to look good until I make it look good, and that means effort on my part.
So stop hating your first run-through for being ugly. Take out the steel wool and clean it up. ‘Cause no one else is going to.
How do you deal with first-draft hatred? Do you take a breather before returning to the story for the edits? Or do you go back to page one with your red pencil right after typing THE END?