Last year my brother gave me an old laser printer that he had lying around, and today I printed out the first draft of my second book on it. I love how fast a laser is and how the toner lasts like, forever. Today I also love how heavy laser paper is because my 324 page ms. looks like The Fucking Stand. And that’s pretty satisfying for making you feel like you’ve accomplished something when you’re also a bit jittery about discovering the quality of what lies within.
The first printout makes a book feel real in a special way, and after a couple months of letting this one sit, I’m finally ready to spill blue ink all over it. I’m ready to find out if it’s worth another 6 to 12 months of work… or if it’s irredeemable.
I’m hoping I’ll find that it has the mojo to justify the redrafting and polishing, but if it doesn’t, then I’m free to go back to the wild, wonderful potential of writing the next one in first draft.
When I walked into the kitchen with the Stack o’ Paper, my wife asked, “What’s that about?”
“It’s last year’s harvest: book two,” I said.
She got all excited, and I went into the bathroom and dropped it on the scale. It’s 5 pounds. A first draft is like an infant; you get to weigh it, and get all giddy, and it doesn’t matter that it might be a little ugly with disproportionate features and slime all over it.
But the giddy moment passes as soon as you turn the title page over and dig in. Some say that writing is an act of courage. Sometimes I agree, and sometimes I think…
Writing can be done by any brazen fool,
But only the brave can read it when it cools.