The Story Of A First Draft (Part Three)

starsPreviously on Betsy’s Blog…

In Part One of The Story of a First Draft, the Muse gave Betsy the beginning situation of her story and showed her a spotlight shining on the ending off in the distance in the darkness of Betsy’s brain.  Together, the Muse and Betsy came up with a vision of the path that would take them from the beginning to the end.  Hooray!  Betsy is on her way to a glorious first draft!  Everything’s coming up roses!

Then last week, in Part Two, Betsy starts out on her journey and runs into difficulties. She chooses the wrong fork in the road, writes herself into a corner, and sulks.  But eventually she is able to overcome the difficulty.  She can even move forward again!  She’s making progress!  Almost there!

Until Betsy, in her infinite wisdom, decides she has been heading in the wrong direction the whole time.  For some reason, she decides the whole story is stupid and she needs to start all over again.  Much to the Muse’s disgust, she turns around to go back to the beginning.

Will this first draft ever be finished?  Will Betsy be writing it for the rest of her life?  Join us and we’ll see…


*Betsy retraces her steps on the path of the story* *When she is almost back to where she started, she turns*  *Starts again, this time heading for a different spotlight in the distance* *reworks squares as she lands on them or puts them away in the closet and writes other squares to take their place*

See? See? Here we are! We’re at the spotlight!  And this one was a lot closer than the other one was. *spotlight glows a sickly red-green* *Betsy steps into the area it lights* *turns around* *sniffs* Hey!  Why does it smell so bad here?

*the Muse, who has been following quietly in the distance, waves her hand in front of her nose* Whew! Wow, that is one rotten ending.

What?  Why?  *Betsy pouts* *Turns to see glowing squares behind her are all jagged and bloody*  And what’s the matter with those squares?  They were all fine when I put them down on the path.

*Muse rolls eyes*  Yeah, well, you dumb-ass that’s because you forced them to go together and tried to make the story be what you thought it should be instead of what it really is.  Who are you, Frankenstein?  How are you liking that fancy pants ending now, sister?

*Betsy’s chin trembles*  But…but it looked so good from far away.

*Muse fists hands on hips*  Well, it wasn’t good, was it?  All you were doing was second guessing yourself.  *Muse walks forward to poke Betsy in the head*  You’ve got a ton of stories up in there but you waste most of your time thinking you chose the wrong path and trying to fix it when there isn’t anything wrong with the path you were on in the first darn place. Now you have to go back to the beginning again.

*Betsy’s eyes fill with tears*  I do? But I’ve reworked a lot of the squares when I was heading to this ending.  I don’t know what they were before.

Tough tomatoes.  You reworked them?  Now you have to un-rework them. And not only that, but you have to figure out how they all fit together again.

*Betsy sniffles* That’s not fair.

*Muse smacks Betsy upside the head*  This time, just write the story you started out writing and don’t try to turn it into something else because you don’t trust yourself. 

*Betsy blinks up at her*  But what if it really is wrong?

*Muse sighs*  If it’s wrong, if it gets stuck, we’ll change it.  But all you were doing in this case was thinking it wasn’t good enough and needed to be something different.  Not all stories can be all things.  You find the path for the story and you stick with it – you don’t try to turn it into something else half way through.

*Betsy scuffs sneaker on a pulsing red square* Okay.  I guess.

*Muse pushes her out of the spotlight*  Get cracking.

*time passes as Betsy retraces her steps* *gets rid of jagged, bloody squares* *finds a few glowing in the midst of the rubble and carefully puts them in place* *pulls out squares she saved* *reworks squares she reworked* *turns* *heads back towards the original spotlight, piecing things together again*

*Then, one day….*

*the faint path still between Betsy and the spotlight suddenly lights up like a slot machine* *lights run up the sides* *the glowing squares rise into the air, then turn and snap back into place*

*Betsy claps her hands* I see it! I see it! I see the story!  I see how it should go! *races forward as fast as she can* *writing on the glowing squares and moving to the next one*

Oh, my gosh! I’m here! *Betsy jumps up and down* I got to the right place!

*turning, she looks back and sees a bright glowing ribbon flowing like a river under the moonlight back to the beginning square, sparkling with color* *the dome, which had been so black at the beginning, now captures the light and reflects it back until it is like a Christmas tree lit at midnight*

Oh! *Betsy clasps hands to breast* Look at that!

*Muse frowns thoughtfully* Remember, this is just the story-finding draft. It’s still very rough. See how it’s thin in some places and really thick in others? And see that part where the stream loops out and around? And the other place where it splits for a little while and then rejoins? I see some gaps here and there. We’ll have to fix those.

*Betsy worries bottom lip* But is it good? Is it beautiful?

*Muse shrugs* It is what it is. *looks sternly at Betsy* And that’s the point.  What we really want is for this story to be true to itself and to you.


*Muse gestures towards the path* Do you see those flashes of color? How the squares are really all the colors of the spectrum? That’s you. That’s what you put into them.

*Betsy blinks* Really?

Yes. You found the story. You are the creator because you brought it out into the world. It wouldn’t exist without you. If someone else found it, it would exist in a different way.

*Betsy frowns*  But it’s just a stupid romance novel.

It’s a story. And we’re going to make it the best we can. Then we’ll move on to the next one and make it even better.

A story. And I found it. *Betsy stares at the ribbon of light*

Yes. *the Muse smiles with satisfaction* You did.  And about damn time too.



lighted path




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