First, the Draft

If you mixed a half cup sugar with a fish head, a bag of russet potatoes, a pound of dog kibble, a tablespoon of Tabasco sauce and a shot of tequila, you’d have something akin to the first draft of my novel.

Undigestible and not fit for human taste buds. It’s only digestible if one is held at knifepoint next to a steep cliffside. I know this because I recently finished the first draft of Gambling with Murder, number five in a Southern California Mystery series.

If you remove the fish head, lessen the sugar, bake the potatoes (and add some sour cream, cheese and chives), and change around the other ingredients, you’ll eventually come up with something that might even taste delicious. It’s reaching the delicious stage that’s a challenge.

Writing the first draft can be alternately tormenting and incredible. Tormenting because of negative self-talk, lack of a proper compass and carving the time to write. Incredible because there are those instances when a chapter starts and ends rather perfectly, which is why this writer continues to write. Plus, I find that when I don’t write, I miss my characters. I enjoy going along for the ride, visiting places I’ve been to before and seeing them in a new light. I like that my heroine is a woman of action and has plenty of spunk. I especially like watching her mature.

I remind myself that the key to success with any project is to reach The End. Completing a task creates a tremendous sense of satisfaction…and, in the case of the early draft, relief.

For this writer, every time I start a new story, the question hovering above my head (sometimes looming quite large) is: can I do this? True, I’ve done it before…four times, to be exact, but can I really do it again? There’s only one way to find out.

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