Writerly laundry, part 1: Dirty drafts

When I read the work of other writers, I get jealous of how eloquent they are, and how creative their turns of phrase. It triggers my impostor syndrome terribly, and I have days where I sit around all sad because I can't write as prolifically and smoothly.

Then I realise it's no different to the same phenomenon that has people feeling depressed after browsing Facebook and Instagram. Most of the time, we only get to see polished posts with smoothly articulated points and all the crap parts taken out.

Today, I'd like to show you what a typical first draft looks like. I feel exposed doing this, but well, we are what we are. First drafts happen. They're awful, but nothing to be ashamed of as long as they get edited. Here goes...

In first-year psych, i learned of a concept called 'egocentricity' - to regard oneself as the centre of all things. It's a phase children go through while they're learning and developing their psyche. The example given was of buying presents. Children still in the egocentric stage of pscyhosocial development will pick presents they like to buy for other people. It's not until they get older and develop better theory of mind that they'll pick presents for others based on what those other people like. Eg. a cookbook for mum instead of that coloured bucket (though to be fair, I would prefer a bucket).

As an everyday not-a-psychologist person, it's pretty easy to pick egocentricity in everyday life. Though not so much in the present-buying stakes. I'm thinking more when people assume you see things a certain way, just because they see things that way. They can't fathom how you would have a different point of view, let alone see it. Egocentrism happens in adults too.

Maybe i'm prredisposed to this as awriter, but i see pieces of writing a little like children. in that early first ddraft stage, they're like toddlers and operate egocentricly. it's all about the idea getting up on its stubby little legs and taking shape in the world. but as you reach the adulthood of publishing, coming at it like a child often ends up making a mess. nuanced arguments especially would suffer from underdeveloped word choice, clumsy grammar, unnecessary repetition and the bevy of typos that never got bashed out by the puberty of editing. but in the draft stage, this is all fine. you're casting a wide net of thoughts and words so none of the good stuff slips through.

but publishing is akin to reaching adulthood, and as a parent, you kind of hope your grown-up kids would be adjusted to life and living with other people. so, you edit, polish your prose and hopefully wind up with something that's not a piece of shit.

There you have some rushed wording with minimal research. Somewhere in the middle, my points get gooey and kind of blur together. But that's fine. It's a tangle to pick apart later.

Tomorrow, I'll show you what it's supposed to look like.