NaNo November: Fear and First Draft Loathing
Every first draft is leap of faith. And every tumble down the long hill of creation is dogged by personal demons. No matter how many books, short stories, scripts or novels I’ve written, wrestling my thoughts to form is filled with battles and challenges. How do I rise to these challenges?
I rise well with gin.
Hunter Thompson rose with a fifth of Wild Turkey by his side, according to my husband who likes to tell stories of the “Fear and Loathing” author who spoke to his U of O class back in the 1970’s. It’s hard to imagine Thompson tussling with a first draft, though it might be said he wrestled a lot of issues, many imaginary.
Yet here’s the thing, we all wrestle with them. For each of us it’s a different story. Crappy childhood, loss, longing, complicated commitments, health matters, it’s all part of life’s journey. For writers, sorting through it all can be a tricky matter. Is it any wonder writers and vices seem made for one another?
As hard as I might try to pen a sparky, comedic heroine facing hilariously difficult circumstances, the truth is… the best humor comes from pain. And through pain we learn. And laugh (after we’re through it).
I employ two techniques to wrangle my inner demons (Thompson, I think, would approve of both). The first is my Mad Max move. Aiming my cerebral car at the fear, I put petal to the metal. Phobias and buried traumas bounce over the hood. Later, I can check the roadkill for psychoanalysis (that’s what editing is about). Speed is everything to get to the finish line of the first draft. It’s messy, but gets the draft home.
My other trick is to invite the demons in. In horror movies this is ALWAYS a mistake. Demons are very seldom friendly to humans and word counts. That’s what the gin is for. Writers long ago discovered this. It insulates us from the pain of self realization. Shakespeare drank mead. Absinthe was popular with bohemians in Paris. Every writing era had its stabilization/motivation libation.
So what is my master plan for filling those blank pages? Drive when I must and drink when I can. Sometimes I’ll run the demons down, but I prefer to meet them on the field of battle at my local watering hole, from four to six in the afternoon. It’s much more civilized. And even demons like a good happy hour.
Jamie Brazil is the author of Prince Charming, Inc. and other novels.