Writers think in terms of drafts. Not those that come in around windows and doors in the winter. But those we write. One of the axioms among fiction writers is write the first draft completely before doing any editing. We know it’s going to be mostly junk but get it done to get the junk out, to have something to work with.
Michelangelo couldn’t carve David until he had a hunk of marble and chipped away everything that didn’t look like David. Our first draft is that hunk of marble. The subsequent drafts are our chipping away until the David that is our story stands before us.
When we rewrite, we find within that junk nuggets of plot, setting, and character that are worth keeping. We find pieces of wordsmithing that sing and soar and have to stay.
Then we rewrite again, three, four, five and even more drafts. Each one whittles and chips the extraneous, making the story tighter, the characters more alive, the setting more vibrant. More chunks of brilliant wordsmithing emerge. The novel gets better and better until it’s done.
We call it our work-in-progress, our WIP.
In my meditation time recently…by the way, I wasn’t sequestered in some room with votive candles and choirs of monks intoning solemn hymns. I was in my car, driving between writers group meetings, listening to Celtic Woman. Point being, we can meditate with God anywhere.
Anyway, back from the rabbit trail. It struck me that, in many ways, I am God’s WIP. When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I wasn’t instantly perfect. An angel didn’t descend from heaven, bop me on the head, and say “Shazam!”
In this Christian walk, I go through seasons and changes. Some are terrifying and heart breaking—losing a son, a job, a dear friend. Some are exhilarating—birth of a child, the first grandchild, publishing the first book.
All are places where we can be edited, where God can do a work that makes us stronger for ourselves, for our families, for him.
Ultimately, we are not only the WIP being edited, we are the final editor.
It is our choice to accept and implement the opportunities for growth he is offering. He offers, he doesn’t force.
We choose to take those edits and apply them as Michelangelo applied the chisel to the granite until we see ourselves as God sees us.
Or we don’t. And, when we don’t, something goes unfinished. In us. And in his plan.
I’m probably God’s 1,000th+ draft (I quit counting). But as I angst over the novella–and advice given (much, not to be taken–especially after this), your article is timely.
I found this perspective especially helpful today, both as a writer and as a WIP.
I agree, we are all works in progress! Thanks for this, Henry! 🙂
Great post, Henry! Novels and our lives are WIP. Love it.
P.S. I think I lost count as to what # edit this is for my book. 🙂
Thank you, Carol.
Thank you, Janice.