A love v hate relationship with first drafts

I’ve finally got into the swing of writing The Pilgrims’ Tale this week, and my conflicting relationship with first drafts is out in full force.  On the one hand I’m full of excitement at the unplanned things my characters are doing and the ways in which they’re doing them.  Today, for example, I’m thinking “Ooh, Leofgar, you’re unexpectedly awesome, aren’t you?!”

Which is great.  But on the other hand, the other part of me is riding along going “for crying out loud, you’ve already used that simile fifteen times this paragraph.  And why is Wulfstan spouting all this pop psychology?  He’s not supposed to know this about himself until at least half way in.  And why have you left a potentially good cliffhanger in the middle of the chapter only to send them all shopping?  You’ve lost all your writing ability, haven’t you?  I kept telling you it would happen, but did you believe me?  Did you?”  And that’s very tiresome.

I think the main reason why I like doing the second draft better is that, when I’m editing, the second voice is usefully and happily doing its job, and not just hanging around like a ghost at the feast, yelling “boo!” and frightening the living daylights out of me.

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