I've written about 140 pages of my new novel, and I probably have about 25 pages left to write. Normally I hate writing first drafts. I've blogged plenty about how horrible it feels and how impossible a task it is. One of my friends, Jenny Meyerhoff, likens writing first drafts to conjuring clay out of thin air. When you revise, you're molding and shaping that clay. Fun stuff. But first drafts? Seriously... where do you think that clay comes from? There's no big bucket in the corner of the room. We have to make the clay! I'm convinced there is magic involved.
So here's the weird thing... I am loving writing this first draft. I've only had one or two bad days. Mostly, I am thrilled to be hanging out and getting to know these characters and their story. I wish I knew why. Why does this novel feels so good to write? What magic forces are at work? Why these characters? Why now?
I ask these questions because I haven't felt this way in ages. And I'd really like to duplicate this feeling again and again and again. But perhaps there isn't a simpler answer. It probably has something to do with my real life being less stressful, and my main character being so likable and relatable, and the central question of the novel being so interesting to me. (What does it take to make you step out of the shadow and own your own light?). And I'm pretty sure there is magic at work. How else can I explain that strange feeling of reading my work-in-progress and wondering how it got written.
Maybe my job isn't to understand the magic but rather to recognize when the magic is there. I spent a year and a half suffering through first drafts that were magic-less. My stubborn nature made it hard for me to put those unfinished novels away. We writers are supposed to struggle, right? Maybe. But I'm quite certain we are supposed to be having fun, too.