Sequels and Remembering the Ugly First Draft

Last November I began a project I call TFNOG, which is an adult urban fantasy currently on the backburner until I have the time to finish it.  TFNOG came out of me with such a polished sounding voice. The protagonist is so markedly different from The Falconer’s Aileana, which is partly why I began writing her in the first place.  She was no less complicated a character, but she was easier on me. I like to think she was just a bit gentler, despite being quite a bit more ruthless than Aileana. TFNOG was the first completely rough draft I’ve worked on since 2010, when I wrote the first draft of The Falconer. And it is quite a bit lovelier to read than that.

I assumed that I was becoming better at writing first drafts. Because TFNOG reads so prettily (I am my own worst critic, so this means something to me, really!), and I was terribly excited about my improvements.

So, I’m working on Aileana’s sequel now, since it’s due in February.  And, oh wow was I ever wrong about becoming better at writing first drafts.  The Falconer 2’s current draft is messy and ugly, and I fret over it daily. I have such fun writing it, and then I read over it and — the god’s honest truth — it is a hot mess right now. Because, you see, I had so easily forgotten just how messy and ugly the first draft of The Falconer was.  I read over what I have written of the sequel and think, “Oh my god, just look at you, sequel. Just look at you. You are a messy thing.”

Now I’m learning to accept that with Aileana, this is simply par for the course. Aileana has always been difficult for me to write, a common complaint I’ve expressed often. One of the things I’ve come to realize is that her voice probably won’t ever flow out of me with ease. That’s my reality with her.  So I suppose it’s not that I’ve become better or worse at writing first drafts, but simply that I have become no better at writing first drafts with Aileana.

To sum: my mental Battle of Wills with Aileana continues. Perhaps the third time will be the charm? 😉

xx Elizabeth May