Day 13 of #1000wordsofsummer 2018
|Jami Attenberg||Nov 25, 2019|
Good morning friends,
Today you will write 1000 words. Don't blink, don't think twice about it. It’s seamless now with your life. Just sit down and do it.
Yesterday I finished the last chapter of the book. I need to revise it, along with three other chapters, before they can get dumped into the big mama document that is the complete book. Then I will edit the hell out of it for the next few months, and we will see what we have. It is not a garbage first draft by any means - in particular, I love some of the things I've done with the structure that are brand new in my repertoire and are quite playful - but I don't think it'll be ready for any sort of consumption for a while yet.
Still, I'm in a good place, because I have something I can print out and hold in my hand. 60,000 words. I had less than 45,000 words when I started this project. That was twelve days ago. I can't remember the last time I accomplished so much in that period of time. What have you accomplished? Can you look back at the last twelve days and see that some sort of shift has occurred? Do you, at the very least, believe in yourself as a writer a little bit more? Because I think you should.
And guess what, you've got still two days left.
A note: If you are just joining us now, you can read all the archives here.
Today's guest contributor is Hannah Tinti, the author of one of my favorite novels of last year, THE TWELVE LIVES OF SAMUEL HAWLEY, as well as two other much-praised books. She is also a beloved educator, a generous human being, and the co-founder of the literary treasure trove One Story, which we should all subscribe to immediately.
“When I was younger, I did pottery. Before I learned how to throw on the wheel, or fire a kiln, or even how to press a pinch pot, my teacher showed us how to make clay. There was a huge barrel of slip in the studio, a trash can filled with water, where everyone would throw their mistakes. Any failed creation (that hadn’t been baked yet) would be recycled back into mud, and the first step to making new clay was to grab a heavy shovel and start tossing these old mistakes into the giant mixer. Every once in a while, we’d open the lid and check the consistency. If the clay was too dry, we’d throw in another shovel of failure.
This is how I’ve come to think of first drafts. Before you can make a priceless vase or a heart-felt novel, you’ve got to make the clay. And you better put on some overalls, because you’re going to get covered with muck. The good news is, you can recycle some of your old ideas. In fact, using the slurry of previous work ages your clay (like fine wine in an oak barrel) making it stronger and more flexible, which greatly increases the chances that your next creation won’t end up in the slip bucket. So think of your 1,000 words today as raw material. It doesn’t have to look like anything yet. But one day you’ll come back to it and spin it into something beautiful.”
Sending you love,