Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lookin' Rough, Robot

Been thinking about rough drafts lately.

I saw an article recently about the lack of rough drafts left in the world. (left? Leaft? no, left, odd word, that one...) Of course, I didn't read the whole article, just scanned it, but the jist was that, if it struck someone to do so, they could get their hands on a rough draft of War and Peace, Ulysses, and many other classic works of world literature (m.lady says-who would do that? those books are long!).

But with the arrival and popularity of these computer contraptions, rough drafts are being lost. Writers revise and save only the most recent version of their work. No more marks on paper. No more Kerouac rolls of speed-induced prose. Just typity-typity on keyboards.

I think of my own process and, scrolling through my work on my own computer, I find I have files with titles such as: "Palindrome_fuckitup" and "palindrome_workitout" and "Water_again" and "water_again_again"

These are my rough drafts. I save and save and save. Because I usually revise away everything I wanted the story to be, so I need to be able to go back and fix it by starting over.

And when I find that I've lost the original? Well I freak out, buy ice cream, and fall asleep in a dairy-induced coma, of course.

As my faithful readers (all four of you!...okay three....two...) know, a lot of my pieces start on lined paper, with doodles of robots in the margins:

(That robot is sad because he has no body to call his own.)

I have a drawer of notebooks over there in my closet. I can't read most of the handwriting, but, funny enough, sometimes when I'm working on something and I think "hey, I already wrote a line that should go here!" and I run to my closet and rummage through the drawer and can usually find the notebook with *the line* scribbled inside.

And if I can read the writing, and if it works, well then I do a little Rocky dance back to my desk.

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