The second first draft

As a lifelong learner and now senior citizen, I write briefly about my experience as a novice. I am a beginning author who has met with the assumption that I am an old hand at this because of my advanced years. No, that’s far from my reality.

I make mistakes, some minor while others have been massive. However, I have always adhered to the philosophy of perseverance. And so, what follows is my reflection on my second first draft, a systematic process.

After completing the initial hand-written transcript, all I want to do is continue. A break, however, at this point is crucial to avoid the frustration of overdrive and the loss of enthusiasm. So, typing a readable version is not a race against time for part two of the first draft. Instead, a time consuming, often tedious process begins, and the hard work of manuscript transformation unfolds.

My engagement with the text, at this stage, requires an element of enjoyment with a focus on sentence construction. The original draft gets an overhaul. I type the groups of words previously strung together as complete sentences. These are marked by beginning with a capital letter and ending with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark. Sounds basic?

I have learnt how the most fundamental punctuation marks require accuracy at this stage. I intentionally disregard the variety of sentence and clause structures. The topic of sentences is reserved for draft two and only after I have revisited the theory of basic and sophisticated sentence structures.

The primary purpose of this draft is to move forward, turning it into a legible text from beginning to end. At the next juncture, and I don’t give myself a deadline, I print off a copy, find a shady tree and, leaning back, read aloud the twenty to seventy thousand words I have written. Usually far too many.

The reading of my second first draft will guide my plans. If I have succeeded, this manuscript goes into a folder labelled the Second draft ready. If I have failed, it goes into another Dormant folder.

It could be weeks, months, or even years before I know if the stories in the Dormant folder will ever become second draft narratives. Nonetheless, I am still smiling.

What's next?... A second draft.

(These are my experiences. Writers have their own text encounters.)