Mario Villalobos

Shitty First Drafts

My blog keeps me in check. It keeps me honest with myself and what I want out of life. Today was rest day, which meant I didn’t have to workout. Since I didn’t have to workout, I took that as an excuse for me to relax. I lied in bed, watched TV, talked on the phone with my friend, watched some more TV, had dinner, and then I figured it was late enough for me to start some reading. I even took a tiny nap while watching TV. I really didn’t want to write tonight. I wanted to sleep instead. I didn’t, though, and I’m glad.

I’m reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and I’m only a few chapters into it, but it’s really good so far. In college, one of my professors had us read a chapter from this book, actually. It was the “Shitty First Drafts” chapter, and I re-read it again tonight and loved it. One of my big issues when writing is not allowing myself to write shitty first drafts. I limit myself to 300 words a day because any more than that will kick in my perfectionism, and then I’ll get no writing done. I’ll be too frustrated to write. She quotes E.L. Doctorow, and that quote is haunting me right now it’s really good. It goes:

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

I almost never start writing with an ending in mind. I’ll get to the end when I get there is my philosophy. We don’t live life with our ending in sight. At least I don’t. I’m aware of it, and I want to live life as fully as possible before it ends, but that’s as far as I’ll go. So why should I write my shitty first draft with that ending in sight? Shit, I have no idea how this entry is going to end. I’m just writing, and I’ll see where the words take me. Does that make for entertaining reading? I don’t know. This is an amateur blog after all.

Tomorrow I’ll be teaching all 15 of our senior high school students how to use Google Docs by writing a story together. I’m scared but also excited. Teaching them Google Docs will be easy; teaching them how to write a story won’t be. I’m thinking of writing a first line and have each student write a line in succession. I’m also thinking of coming up with a genre or a subject on the spot and starting fresh together rather than coming up with a line beforehand. All in all, I’m there to teach them to use something they might not be familiar with, and in the process, our story will be a very shitty first draft. But it will be our shitty first draft. And to be super honest, I have a tiny crush on one of the senior girls, and that makes me feel a little dirty since I’m ten years older and all.

I have the power to cut that last line out but I don’t want to. This is a shitty first draft after all. It’s also the final draft, so yeah. Eww, right?