Dear Firstie: A Letter to my First Draft

Writing a letter to my first draft

Here lies the current source of my contemplation; the first draft of my novel, surrounded by heroes and awesomes, because I feel like a freaking hero for finishing it in the first place.

I wrote this letter to my ‘Firstie’ when I was scared to even look at the poor thing. Since then I have ‘womaned up’ and started the editing and revising process. This has already involved a truckload of coffee, doubt slaying, and cultivating a mahoosive set of self-belief cojones.

Dear Firstie,

Hello there, you great, big, lolloping mass of printed paper. I know it’s not polite to ask, but seriously, have you put on weight? You looked so slim last time I saw you.

It’s kind of good to see you again, but like a friend who keeps popping up at the most inopportune moments, I equally love and dislike your visits. Picture it: there’s a knock at the door and I’ve been bunkering down with a family sized bar of chocolate, toothpaste on my face to dry out the humongous zit, and hair so greasy that you could fry chips in it. Do you answer or not?

Then I remember…

We are best buds nowadays. We’ve been through the tantrums, the tears, the rants… and that’s just me. You’ve seen me at my worst, yet you still stick around. I guess you’re a keeper.

I have to confess that you scare me a little.  I am only beginning to know you. This has been a whirlwind relationship that has knocked me off my feet.

You swept unexpectedly into my life about four months ago and you certainly weren’t backwards about coming forwards. Anyone else would have got a sweary retort. You, you little charmer, gave me ‘the eyes’ and I was yours.

You’d get extra specially chatty at night. I told you that it was bed time and to speak to me after morning coffee, but no, it could not wait. It had to be NOW or not at all. I should have naughty-stepped your arse, but I confess that what you shared in the early hours of the morning were often little gems.

Firstie, help me to muster up my old feelings for you. I don’t want this relationship to fizzle out.

I know you’re annoyed with me for locking you away under a laptop lid for a while, but it was for the good of us both. We needed space. We needed that time to work out where our relationship was heading.

If I had hooked up with you again, when we were on a break, one of us would not have lived to tell the tale. I staged an intervention and hid you away. Not in a Flowers in the Attic fashion. I love you, but not that much.

I have been figuring out if I am enough for you. Quit mocking me for being afraid to pick you up and read you in your full, jumbled up, entirety. We all get a little flaky sometimes.

Buddy Christ
It may be time for divine intervention. Bring in the big guns…

It may be time for divine intervention. Bring in the big guns…

Firstie, no one can relate better to a right royal tangle more than me. I’m concerned that my messedupedness rubbed off on you. Will I read you and tie myself in knots, wondering if it was nature or nurture that made you who you are right now?

Like most parents, I will never regret creating you, even if you turn out to be the black sheep of my writing family. I will give you the attention you crave. I will help you to be the very best that you can be.

Prepare yourself Firstie, it’s going to be a painful experience. Bits of you will be lopped off. I won’t aim for the jugular or the more delicate parts, but there are no guarantees. You may be walking a little strangely afterwards.

New bits will need to be added. I’ll try not to create a monster. Hopefully you’ll look better for your makeover but maybe you should prepare now for not fitting society’s high aesthetic standards. Beauty is on the inside…blah…standard parent of ugly kid advice…blah

We’ll finish with a little buffering and possibly some last-minute tweaks. You might enjoy that, you cheeky thing.

Firstie, you changed my life. You gave me a purpose and helped me to see that I can be a writer. Without you there would be no short stories, ideas for future novels, or this blog.

Do not expect a wailing rendition of ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’; no one deserves to be subjected to that. Besides, no one died. Yet. Or did they? *gratuitous teaser type strategy to get people to actually read you*

Dairy Milk
Oh, okay then, if you’re bringing chocolate I’m sticking with you. I am such a cheap date.

I know you feel the pressure of my pushy parent desire for you to be the best that you can be. This does not excuse your bratty stage school kid behaviour. Take that make up off your face madam, you’re less than a year old. I will send you back to the laptop.

Your self-confidence baffles me. You battled to get here and you’re fighting to remain. How on earth did I spawn such a confident being?

You are not me. You exist on your own terms. You represent my creative skill and imagination, but you are not the sum total of me.

Always remember what Larkin wrote about parents; I may f**k you up, I don’t mean to, but I could…

Now stop glaring at me or I will stick you through the shredder. Infanticide in some cultures is still, sadly, a thing.

Your ever loving and frankly fearful creator xx

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer. When she's not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, books, the cats, and the husband. Perhaps not in that order.

25 comments on “Dear Firstie: A Letter to my First Draft

    1. Ah, you’ve clearly not been schooled in the ways of Jo Frost, Super Nanny. It’s her discipline method of choice for kids. Commit a misdemeanour and you sit on the naughty step for a minute for each year of your life e.g. two minutes for a two year old. I tried it on myself recently when I was getting on my own nerves but I just enjoyed the opportunity to read for quite a while – no disclosure here of just how many minutes were involved!

      1. Ohhhhh. I’d heard of that, but I missed the reference. I mistook it for some sort of British euphemism for spanking. 😛 I like this more.

        The wisest thing (IMO as a not-parent) that I’ve heard about this is that things like the naughty step or time outs are, more than a punishment, an opportunity for both child and parent to calm down so they can talk things out. Considering my dad’s own temper and his tendency to get fed up and push and yell and refuse to leave me alone for a minute, making me feel cornered and liable to lash out, I appreciate the sentiment.

    1. Not so sure I do have the time but blogging gets all the love my fiction writing does too. Perhaps I’ll be writing a letter to this blog next. Now there’s an idea… Pleased you enjoyed it Kristen, thanks so much!

  1. Thanks for this post! First draft of my first novel is currently in the resting phase before I pull it out again for edits. Good luck with yours! LOVE the pic of your manuscript with superheroes!

  2. What a fun post! Absolutely love it, thank you for sharing. Congratulations on completing the first draft of your novel :-).

  3. Congratulations, Lisa! You’ve done what thousands wish to, but just don’t quite make it – you’ve written a book. Enjoy the feeling, it’s a special one 🙂

  4. Love it! My Camp NaNo project this month is editing last year’s NaNoWriMo book – my first full-length novel. The promise of an after-dinner mint if I get through my daily allocation is a great sweetener 😉

    1. Thanks Liz. You’re far more disciplined than I am. An after dinner mint would be my warm up snack for starting the writing. It’s all about the incentives and rewards, eh?

  5. OMG….I had to see what you’re about and I have to say, I freaking love you. First off, I love the “buddy christ”. Secondly, your writting is superb and I had all of these same emotions as you did when I wrote my manuscript in 1996. By the way it’s still locked up and I never had plans to publish it. I wrote it to prove to myself I could finish something I started. You my new friend are totally inspiring!

    1. Hello there! Can you start a fan club please so we can shamelessly promote me there? Just kidding…I think.

      Buddy Christ was discovered in Rome and he’s flipping amazing! He often points at me when I’m procrastinating and gives me the butt kicking that’s often required.

      Finishing a first draft is a major accomplishment, published or not. Kudos to your 1996 and present self! Thanks for stopping by this humble blog of mine.

  6. I love this. (But I think you should have submitted it to magazines or something. Probably you still could as a reprint or if you found a suitable magazine that didn’t consider blog posts as published material.)

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