The Third Draft
I’ve been working on my third Maggie Dove book for more than a year. The first draft flowed out of me in a Nanowrimo eruption–more than 50,000 words in a month. The second draft took longer. I had to read through all those words and figure out what the plot was, which did not become clear to me until about word 17,000. Then I had to figure out who the characters were and what they wanted. You would think this would be a simple matter since my protagonist stays the same from book to book, but Maggie Dove is evolving (as am I) and I needed to think about how to reflect that. Then, of course, there are all the murder details, and those take a certain amount of cogitation. Drowning versus falling off a cliff versus getting hit on the head with an ax. I have to choose the right thing to go with the murderer, and oh, about halfway through I decided that the killer was going to be someone else entirely. I surprised myself, and hopefully will surprise the reader, but that meant I had to go back and think some more about what I’d plotted out. By the time I finished the second draft it was November, and now I’m in the midst of the third draft, which I find the hardest one to write. Because there are no more little spots where you can write in TK (meaning To Come, meaning, I’ll fix it later.) This is the draft where I have to fix that sentence that has been giving me trouble all along. This is the draft where I have to figure out how on earth someone can be some place on Tuesday when I’ve just set up a snow storm on Monday. I have the confidence of knowing the story’s there. The story is in place. But now I have to make it shine. All of which is to say, it takes patience. So much of writing takes patience and I’m coming to realize that a big part of patience is trust. I know I will do this. Unless of course I go keeling over, I will get this done. I will make it through the holidays, I will finish up my manuscript and send it to my agent and she will say wise things. I just have to take the time to do it just right. But honestly, I just want it all to be done. How do you keep your patience?