Write by Faith
By Ellie Ann
Did I really write “he was angry” and “it was a beautiful day”?
Sticklebacks! I found two-hundred and eleven unnecessary and easily deletable words.
Ugh. “Pattered” twice in the same paragraph, describing different things.
How did I not notice that only three days elapsed, not five?
Demas wouldn’t respond like that to Eyre’s artwork. It’s so out of character.
How embarrassing. What was I thinking? What’s that doing there? I’m a horrible writer!
Thus my thoughts during the second draft.
This is when I start to doubt my story, and my ability as a writer. This is when I must start writing by faith, not by sight.
You see, from all outward appearances, my book looks like a failure. The plot has as many holes as swiss cheese. My characters wander around, not sure of who they are. My grammar ain’t so bad, but my punctuation would make my English teacher want to burn my book at the stake. And my prose . . . let’s not go there.
But regarding this book, I am God. And God does not judge by the outward appearance, but by the heart. And I believe my book has a beautiful heart. Somewhere DEEP beneath the layers of writing mistakes and grammatical errors, a great story is waiting to emerge.
“Like stones, words are laborious and unforgiving, and the fitting of them together, like the fitting of stones, demands great patience and strength of purpose and particular skill.” Edmund Morrison.
During this second draft, I make lots of coffee. I vacuum. I go on walks. I take baths. I think a lot about the book. About the settings—I close my eyes and imagine what Garbonzo Cafe smells like and who its customers are. I have fake conversations with Demas, my main character. I decide what themes I want to heighten, and which to lose. The initial excitement of the first draft is over (the dating stage), and now I must commit to it, believe in it, and bring out the best in it (marriage). I stare for thirty minutes at the computer screen, then add three words and delete two sentences . . . and then the next day I delete the entire scene.
“Writing is rewriting. A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, intensify scenes. To fall in love with the first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing.” Richard North Patterson.
“I have rewritten- often several times, every word I have ever written. My pencils outlast their erasers.” Vladimir Nabokov.
Do you believe in your story? The second draft tests that. It took me a month to write my 65,000 word first draft. It took me thirteen months to finish my 76,900 word second draft.
“Half my life is an act of revision.” John Irving.
The first draft has lice, and during the second draft you must go through its hair with a fine tooth comb until it’s healthy and shiny. Don’t give up, even though you get sick in the stomach and feel like shearing it off completely. Your writing is important. It’s important for you to tell your story. It’s important for you to believe in it. For if you believe in it—then others will, too.
Ellie, thanks so much for sharing your insight with us! If you have any questions or remarks for Ellie, please leave a comment!