“Second Draft Problem!” I threw up my hands, and my writing group laughed.
This happens frequently as I stumble like a drunk zombie through the prose in the first draft of my future best-seller. (Mmm…. local best seller? Mid-level seller? Self-pubbed fiction that only family has bought?) I’m trying to embrace the first draft philosophy– you just have to write it, get the words on paper, find your story, don’t judge yourself. And so I have a new mantra- “Second Draft Problem!” I repeat this to myself every time a turn of phrase falls flat, when a scene feels boring, when a plot point doesn’t quite work. Push on, I tell myself, liberating Current M from responsibility. Future M will solve this for us in the second draft. Just keep swimming, and Future M will deal with this later. Future M will save us, erase all our writing sins, squeeze blood from turnips.
Man, I can’t wait to meet Future M. She must be an effing genius. And really wise too. She’s the wittiest person ever, and she solves plot puzzles like she’s the new Agatha Christie. I bet she’s great at editing, too. In fast, I’m counting on it. Plus, she’s a champion at time management and organizational skills. She’s got all kinds of multi-colored Post-It notes and color coding pens. Not that she needs them; her mind is like a steel trap. She’s even figured out how I’m going to get health insurance if I ever manage to have the kind of writing career where I don’t have to work a 9 to 5 and lose my employer funded benefits. Future M is ON IT.
I’m a little concerned, though, because Future M already has a lot on her plate. She’s supposed to figure out financial planning for me, too. And she’s gonna be pretty busy becoming fluent in French. When I imagine the future, I’m always fluent in French and wearing really fashionable scarves. So, she’s gonna have to start getting into fashion magazines in her spare time. She might also be a little tied up with all the dinner parties she’s hosting. She better be hosting some dinner parties, or else why do I own a rotating chalkboard serving tray? And what if Future M can’t deal with my manuscript because the Zombie Apocalypse finally happens? Or she’s working in a factory mill because China finally calls in our debts to them and turns our whole country into one big production line?
It occurs to me that Future M evolves from Current M. Current M would feel a lot better about the odds on this evolution if Current M thought something magic would happen in the meantime to create Future M. Current M imagines this:
Tired, “Winging It,” Dullsville Current M + SPARKLING MAGIC EVENT= Energetic, Deliberate, Modern Algonquin Roundtable Future M
But the truth is, Current M is more likely to have to trek through some dark places and do the mental equivalent of P90X so that Future M can emerge with her toothpaste ad smile and bon mots dropping from her lips like rain.
And so Current M turns back to her laptop and promises Future M she’s on the way. Current M still has First Draft Problems.