First draft: elephant on a velocipede*

The entire family—except for me, and I’m really close—is taking a nap right now after an incredible buffet lunch at our favorite India restaurant. I may have overdone the saag paneer and gulab jamun just a bit, but I can still move my fingers, so I thought I’d post early today:

I posted the first bit of the first draft of something from my Possibility folder over at The Intern’s place for the International Sh!tty First Draft Week Contest. 

As I sort of explained over there, the posted bit and several of the following pages were cut from the next draft because none of it was the actual story—it was all just me trying to catch a glimpse of the elephant while, apparently, channeling Damon Runyan and Mark Twain while listening to an internal soundtrack made of circus music.

When it comes to crappy first drafts, never say I don’t deliver.

Wondermark! is the brilliant work of the genius who is David Malki ! Revere him.

*My husband:  “Second draft: Rhinos on ice!”


Writing the Elephant

Nina Killham has written (yet another) thought-provoking post on her blog.  It connects art and writing in a lovely, meditative way.

I’ve left a comment over there, but I’d like to expand on that over here.

Nina’s  post reminded me of the instructions given by “a famous sculptor” on how to create a statue of an elephant:

You get a giant block of marble . . .

. . . and carve away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.

This is more or less the way I write.  I amass a first draft*. . .

(there’s a plot in there, I promise)

. . . And I whittle and revise, edit, beta, revise, ditch a couple of subplots, fire some characters, tighten the prose, and polish away anything that isn’t the story.**

This isn’t easy—both elephants and novels are far more complicated than one might think—but it seems to work.  And it’s fun, even with the pulling of hair and the cursing of the very alphabet.  If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be any point, right?

So, while I am aiming for one of these, it’s no small accomplishment to have written an entire elephant.  Or two.  Or even three.  Because I’m learning more and more about elephants along the way.  And writing.

And hyperextending analogies.

So, anyone else have any?  Writing analogies, that is—although if you do have an elephant (written, sculpted, or otherwise) I’d love to see a photo!


*And if you think the photo exaggerates, ask my husband—I nest.  The expression on the lady’s face is, I’m told, the same one I get when someone drags me out of a scene.

**I save all the scraps of deathless prose in a folder.  Who knows when those ninja monkey nuns might come in handy?